Ex-Tacoda chief Curt Viebranz apparently has been pushed off the AOL platform. The head of AOL’s new Platform A advertising unit since September, Viebranz is leaving the firm, but not on his own volition, according to a source familiar with the situation. He’ll be replaced by Lynda Clarizio, president of AOL’s giant ad network, Advertising.com, as part of a consolidation effort.
Platform A, a unit created late last year to integrate AOL’s ad technology properties, includes the Advertising.com network and behavioral targeting firm Tacoda, acquired in July 2007. Clarizio will report to Ron Grant, AOL president and COO. When the new ad division launched, Clarizio reported to Viebranz, who also reported to Grant. Viebranz wasn’t available for comment.
In addition to ad network powerhouse Advertising.com and Tacoda, Platform A brings together AOL properties including mobile ad network Third Screen Media, text ad network Quigo, and ad management firm AdTech.
Viebranz’s departure from his short-term home comes almost exactly a month after his former colleague, Tacoda founder Dave Morgan, left AOL, where he’d been serving as EVP of global advertising strategy. A perennial entrepreneur, Morgan left on his own accord to ponder his next startup. Last month he told ClickZ News he planned to launch a new Web firm, and expected to stay in close contact with AOL, which he said could take an interest in his venture-to-be.
Kathy Kayse, former VP of marketing solutions for Platform A, has also left the AOL building. Last month the Time Warner vet left for a gig as EVP of digital media sales for Discovery Communications. She also reported to Viebranz. News of Kayse’s resignation came soon after AOL owner Time Warner announced it will divide AOL into separate ISP and ad units.
The executive shifts at AOL reflect the disruption in the overall online ad industry. By collapsing its ad properties and streamlining its staff, AOL hopes to better compete with Google and what could become a much-stronger Yahoo, if Microsoft’s bid for the company comes to fruition. To stave off the Microsoft grab, Time Warner is rumored to have discussed a possible merger of AOL and Yahoo.
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