Two sales SVPs are out as AOL ad unit seeks to overcome what some characterize as shortcomings in relationships with advertisers.
A day after Yahoo went wide with a new structure designed to improve efficiency and product quality, rival Web ad seller Platform-A has begun its own shakeup.
Adjustments at AOL's ad selling unit are more explicitly geared toward improving sales than were Yahoo's. Two top ad execs -- SVP National Sales Don Kennedy and SVP North American Advertiser Services Mike Peralta -- will leave their positions under the first changes introduced by new President Greg Coleman. Kennedy will stay with the company in a new role, and his team will temporarily report to Coleman. Peralta will leave Platform-A, and his team will for the time being report to Regional Sales VP Mark Ellis.
In an internal memo, Coleman told Platform-A staff to expect "a multi-tiered plan that will address our infrastructure, make necessary role changes and bring in talent where needed."
He also acknowledged the need to act quickly to prop up ad revenue. The year 2008 was tough for all companies reliant on display advertising, thanks to the twin problems of over-abundant inventory and recessionary budget cuts undertaken by blue chip advertisers. However Platform-A performed worst than most, experiencing an 18 percent decline in revenue during the fourth quarter of 2008, and a 6 percent drop for the full year compared to 2007. Yahoo, by comparison, saw its display ad revenue fall 1 percent in Q4, and rise 3 percent for full-year 2008. And both Google and Microsoft reported significant increases in both Q4 and full-year 2008 revenue.
The question remains how Platform-A's fortunes became so dire. In a conversation with ClickZ last week, former Platform-A Chief Curt Viebranz suggested the company had dismissed far too many employees as it consolidated its various ad network units, including Advertising.com, Tacoda, Quigo, and Third Screen Media.
Viebranz suggested the reason for his ouster from Platform-A a year ago was his unwillingness to cut staff. "They said if you're not going to go and cut a bunch of heads, then we don't want you here," said Viebranz. During Lynda Clarizio's tenure as Platform-A president, AOL announced the layoffs of approximately 100 Platform-A staffers.
"One could have predicted that this was going to come," Viebranz said of Greg Coleman's appointment last month to replace Clarizio and revamp the sales force. Coleman joined from Yahoo, where he was in charge of integrating the company's search and display sales efforts.
Kate Kaye contributed reporting.
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