More NewsAOL Ad Chief Retires

AOL Ad Chief Retires

The head of ad sales for the AOL service plans to retire, as the ISP shows signs that the decline of its advertising business may be slowing.

AOL’s president of interactive marketing, Robert Sherman, informed the company of his retirement on Monday.

Sherman had spent a year heading up the AOL Time Warner ISP unit’s struggling ad sales division, attempting to revamp the organization to stem the huge declines in ad revenue. To some degree, his efforts have been a success. After declining 40 percent last year, AOL recently said it was on track to sell more advertising this year than in 2002.

AOL said Sherman would leave at the end of the month. No successor has been named.

Sherman took over the ad sales post at AOL from Robert Friedman following a successful stint at AOL Time Warner’s cable division, which lured him out of retirement in 2001 following a long career in the agency world. Prior to joining the company, Sherman served as head of the agency Della Femina, Travisano, Sherman & Olken. He was also a radio industry executive.

AOL CEO Jonathan Miller praised Sherman’s efforts in a company-wide memo issued Tuesday afternoon.

“Bob deserves credit for guiding the interactive marketing team through a challenging time, providing real leadership, and for laying the foundation off which we are able to build a scalable and sustainable ad business,” Miller wrote. “AOL’s ad business has begun to turn around, and Bob has been the principal driver of that effort.”

The AOL ad division has also been a focus of a Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Justice investigation into whether it inflated revenues in the boom days.

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