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Starcom MediaVest CEO Laura Desmond Resigns From Tremor Video's Board

Company Replaces Her Seat With Former Yahoo, Admeld Exec

By Published on . 1

Laura Desmond
Laura Desmond

Laura Desmond, CEO of Publicis Groupe media agency network Starcom MediaVest Group, has resigned from the board of video ad tech company Tremor.

The disclosure will be made in an 8-K filing with the SEC on Friday. She gave her notice in August and her departure from the video ad network was effective September 26, 2013. She had served as a member of Tremor's board since January 2012.

"We want to thank Laura for her participation on our board of directors," said Bill Day, Tremor's president and CEO, in a statement. "Laura's deep expertise in global media, marketing and technology, leadership capabilities and business acumen has provided meaningful perspective and industry knowledge to our board."

Ms. Desmond and SMG declined to comment about what prompted her decision to vacate the seat. She's being replaced by Michael Barrett, former EVP-global chief revenue officer at Yahoo and former CEO of Admeld.

Tremor this week announced a new programmatic buying product, VideoHub, and his prior experience was seen as a good fit given those new initiatives. Mr. Barrett led the integration efforts following Google's acquisition of Admeld, an ad platform for online publishers. He also has spent time at Fox Interactive Media and AOL.

Conflict of Interest

This summer, observers in adland flagged Ms. Desmond's board position as a conflict-of-interest, but Ms. Desmond has remained mum about the criticism that erupted.

A few prominent industry leaders, however, such as Medialink CEO Michael Kassan and Weather Channel CEO and former Publicis Groupe exec David Kenney, publicly came to her defense -- saying it was a sound way for an agency leader to learn about what's going on in the ad tech world.

New York-based Tremor has outposts in several major cities across the U.S. and international offices in London, Singapore, and Toronto. Clients who use its video ad technology include several major advertisers and ad agencies.

Before Tremor debuted its initial public offering in June, a pre-IPO securities filing revealed that Ms. Desmond was granted hundreds of thousands in options in the video ad-tech startup for sitting on its board. The filing also showed that clients of her agency group provided a large chunk of Tremor's revenue. Nearly 18% of Tremor's revenue in 2012 came from advertisers represented by SMG.

Despite disclosures that Ms. Desmond recuses herself from any business involving both SMG and Tremor, observers decried her role as overly beneficial to her personally. Her board role was vetted and approved by Publicis Groupe, a person familiar with the matter told Ad Age in June.

The move comes amid an impending mega merger between SMG's parent, Publicis Groupe, and Omnicom. Publicis CEO Maurice Levy and Omnicom CEO John Wren would lead the joint group as co-CEOs. Currently, Ms. Desmond reports into Mr. Levy. It's unclear what role, if any, the merger talks had on Ms. Desmond's decision to resign.

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