Salzman Steps Down From DoubleClick Media

DoubleClick is poised to lose a key executive from its embattled Media group, with the surprise departure of Barry Salzman.

Spokespeople confirmed that Salzman would step down Dec. 1 from his post as president of New York-based DoubleClick’s Global Media group for reasons described only as “personal”.

Salzman, who held the company’s top media position for one year, joined DoubleClick in 1997 as president of DoubleClick International, where he oversaw the ad giant’s move into foreign markets, starting with Japan that year.

Now, Jeffrey Silverman, vice president and general manager for the company’s U.S. media operations, will take over Salzman’s post, which entails oversight of DoubleClick’s high-end Brand network, its lower-cost Audience network, and its E-mail List Services unit. Additionally, vice president Stephane Cordier will continue to oversee the company’s international networks.

Spokespeople said that while Salzman would be leaving his post, he would continue to help with undisclosed projects.

Salzman’s departure comes following months of efforts by DoubleClick to find a place for its media services, as CPM pricing continues to suffer throughout the industry. In recent quarters, the company’s media business has taken a back seat to its research and data group, and its technology division — chiefly centered around its DART ASP-based ad server. DoubleClick’s technology and research/data areas both now contribute more revenue that its ad network.

Several executives at the company — including Ebrahim Keshavarz, the firm’s vice president for product and business development in its Technology Solutions unit — have voiced statements to the effect that “DoubleClick used to be a media company; now it’s a technology company.”

Spokespeople have waved away notions that the company plans to abandon its media business altogether — following the model of smaller competitors like Engage and Mediaplex, which is now a unit of ValueClick — pointing to the recent unveiling of technology changes aimed at enhancing the rich media capabilities of the media network. The implication, of course, is that DoubleClick wouldn’t waste resources bettering a network that it planned to unload.

But the fact remains that the company also has undertaken serious efforts to stem its losses from media. In March, the company cut 10 percent of its staff and reorganized its eponymous ad network into its Brand and Audience sub-categories, in a move to boost sales. Sites in the company’s Brand network — which are thought to have a more recognizable brand name, and more pull with consumers — were to be sold individually, while sites in the Audience network were to be packaged into vertical categories or sold as pat of run-of-network deals.

Earlier that month, DoubleClick also closed media sales offices in Australia and Brazil. And last December, the company parted ways with global media executive vice president Wenda Harris Millard, who resurfaced earlier this month at Yahoo after a brief stint at Ziff Davis Internet.

While speculation continues to brew about DoubleClick’s relationship with its Media group, the company said no further changes were presently taking place at the division.

“At the moment, it’s business as usual,” said a spokesperson.

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