AOL Promotes Man Behind Ad Revenue Bright Spot

AOL’s third-party network is among its only big-growth businesses, and its Chief Revenue Officer Ned Brody is getting a promotion. Brody will fill a newly-created CEO position for the Group, carrying on with the work he’s been doing. In addition, according to an internal note sent to AOL employees this morning and shared by the company with ClickZ, Jim Norton, SVP of AOL Advertising will join the firm’s executive committee.

“With Ned’s leadership and vision over the last twelve months, we have grown revenue and continue to add new publishers to the network, launched new business extensions and built a robust product pipeline,” wrote AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in the memo. Armstrong also noted Brody will continue to head up AOL’s international teams.

“Ned is one of our most seasoned executives, and with his track record as an accomplished entrepreneur, a sophisticated operator, and an industry veteran, I believe Ned is ideally positioned to lead Group in its next phase of growth.”

Another change: though remaining in his current role, Norton will now report directly to Armstrong.

The business was a bright spot in an otherwise cloudy Q1 2012 earnings report from the company. Revenues from the network were up 23 percent.

While AOL’s network business has grown, it continues to struggle when it comes to generating ad revenue on its own properties. First quarter revenue from AOL properties dropped 2 percent year-over-year, and the company’s domestic display revenues fell 1 percent.

“I was not happy with the domestic display over the course of Q1,” said Armstrong while discussing the numbers earlier this month. “We had sort of a stale strategy that was probably off tune a little bit and we’ve tuned it back up…It’s much more KPI focused,” he added, noting he had spent lots of time in recent weeks meeting with advertiser clients and agencies to promote AOL’s new data- and ROI-centric display ad sales focus.

The firm is betting on rich media and video advertising as key to future revenue growth. During the Q1 earnings call, Armstrong said use of its large Project Devil rich media ad unit grew 80 percent year-over-year and CPMs rose. “Devil worked. Our customers want it and we’ll continue to scale it,” said Armstrong.

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