AOL's New Sales Head: Devil Ads, Video 'Huge' Priorities

AOL and Google Veteran Charged With Revving Up Ad Sales in 2012

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AOL finally has a new head of sales. The company announced this morning that Jim Norton, a sales executive with the company, will oversee all sales for AOL's sites and properties. Mr. Norton will also head up sales for cross-platform products across mobile and video.

Jim Norton
Jim Norton

When Ned Brody was named president of AOL advertising and chief revenue officer in July, he conceded that he isn't a typical salesperson.. Mr. Norton, who will report to Mr. Brody, is . He has been with AOL since 2009, when he was hired away from Google.

"People like working for him, and he's good in front of customers," said a sales exec who worked closely with Mr. Norton in the past. "He's a solid choice."

In an interview, Mr. Norton said his main priority is building AOL's display revenue -- it continues to lag industry growth -- by increasing adoption of Project Devil ad units, as well as sales across platforms such as mobile phones and tablets. He called sales of video ads "a huge, huge priority."

One of Mr. Norton's main tasks will be accelerating adoption of AOL's Project Devil ad units, which have been both lauded for their innovation and criticized for their high cost and limited reach.

Mr. Norton's promotion is expected to free up time for Mr. Brody to work on partnerships, such as the one with Yahoo and Microsoft to unload inventory, as well as expanding the network of third-party publishers that run Devil ad units. Without greater scale or lower costs, the units will continue to be a challenging sale for the Project Devil sales team, agency execs have said.

"It's a big, big bet for us in 2012 and beyond," Mr. Norton said.

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