“The supply of advertising has increased so dramatically, I do think that it is putting pressure on the pricing in the industry,” said Ms. Clarizio, who on Monday was named president of Platform A. “How couldn’t it?”
Ms. Clarizio most recently was the president of Advertising.com, the largest ad network at AOL and the first one it acquired, in 2004. In an interview Tuesday, she said she was taking quick action to turn things around.
For instance, she told AOL’s many ad sales teams that they would be merged into one. About 1,600 people work for Platform A; Ms. Clarizio declined to say if there would be any layoffs.
Morale may be an issue for some time. In November, after AOL laid off 2,000 employees, Mr. Falco and Ron Grant, AOL’s chief operating officer, traveled among the companies’ offices and met with employees. At Advertising.com’s headquarters in Baltimore, the session grew heated when the executives told them to avoid selling ads to customers who had been paying higher rates to AOL’s own sales force.
Ms. Clarizio, described by her colleagues as a “mother hen” to Advertising.com, said she had forcefully argued for the view of her sales staff.
Soon afterward, Dave Morgan, a founder of Tacoda who had stayed on at AOL, tried to persuade Time Warner to sell Advertising.com in order to avoid conflicts between the fast-growing network and the rest of the company, according to a senior AOL executive, who was given anonymity to disclose details about internal matters. Mr. Morgan has recently left AOL.
Ms. Clarizio had opposed buying Tacoda, saying that Advertising.com could build its own ad customization technology, the senior executive said. The leadership of other companies that AOL had acquired — like the ad network Quigo — chose not to join AOL, so by the end of last year, a schism emerged between the people from Advertising.com and those from Tacoda.
This week, AOL’s leadership decided to change course. Mr. Falco said in an interview that he had fired Mr. Viebranz because did not move quickly enough to blend AOL’s acquisitions and energize the sales force.
“What is important to me is to have somebody in that job integrate and bring together Platform A,” Mr. Falco said. “I need somebody to do it fast enough. The marketplace was not going to wait for us.”
Mr. Viebranz declined to comment. Kathleen Kayse, who oversaw ad sales for Platform A and left AOL early in February, also declined to comment.
Some executives familiar with AOL’s plans see progress. “They’re playing catch up, but they’re trying to do the right thing,” said Henry Vogel, former chief revenue officer at Quigo.