Cella Irvine, former chief administrative officer at Digitas, has been named the next CEO of About Group. Irvine will step in to replace the most recent About chief, Scott Meyer, whose departure was announced in February.
Boosting About’s display ad business is a top priority for the new CEO. In addition to her two years as chief administrative officer at Digitas, from 2005 to 2007, Cella has a solid background in interactive media through her work at Hearst New Media and Microsoft Corporation, where she served as GM of the defunct city guide site New York Sidewalk.
Irvine indicated one of her focus areas will be to build more display ad revenue. She noted About’s cost-per-click advertising business continues to perform well, but added it’s dealing with display ad price pressure and issues related to unsold inventory.
“Anytime you come in as a new CEO, it’s really incumbent upon you to embrace the business as a whole,” said Irvine, adding, “I am saying that display sales is something I know I’m focused on.”
Irvine would not state whether any other personnel changes or hiring can be expected now that she’s on board. “We have made no plans whatsoever,” she said. Until she starts next month, SVP Digital Operations Martin Nisenholtz and Chief Digital Architect Ron McCoy, both with About parent New York Times Company, will continue in their interim roles leading the site. Irvine will report to Nisenholtz.
“I plan on getting in, getting to know the business better, getting to know the team, and getting to know the guides,” she said. About.com’s content is generated by its multiple guides who provide advice on a wide variety of subjects. The About Group also includes Calorie-Count.com, ConsumerSearch.com and UCompareHealthCare.com.
In February, Scott Meyer announced his departure from About.com, the firm he’d run since May 2005. Meyer has yet to make his post-About plans known.
Irvine will start with About on July 28, around a year after she left Digitas. During her hiatus from the interactive media world, Irvine told ClickZ she has spent time with her family and pursued competitive figure skating.
The About Group’s Web sites include About.com, ConsumerSearch.com, UCompareHealthCare.com and Calorie-Count.com.
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