NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- MySpace head of sales Jeff Berman is leaving the company and will be replaced on an interim basis by online-ad-sales veteran Wenda Harris Millard.
In an unorthodox arrangement, Ms. Millard, who joined advertising consulting firm Media Link in April, will not become an employee of MySpace or of parent News Corp., at least not immediately. She will remain as president of Media Link while helping to restructure MySpace's ad business, including leading the search for Mr. Berman's replacement.
Media Link's founder and CEO, Michael Kassan, stressed that the assignment is temporary and the arrangement similar to other consulting deals with clients such as Microsoft, AT&T and Unilever. Media Link, a matchmaker in the online ad business, has tentacles around the industry and is a key player in Microsoft's push to acquire Yahoo's search business.
Ms. Millard joined Media Link as president in April after departing as co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and high-profile stints at Yahoo and Ziff Davis. She is one of the best-connected and certainly best-known execs in online media.
News of her impending move to MySpace was first reported by Kara Swisher of AllThingsD.com, also owned by News Corp.
Rumors of Mr. Berman's departure have swirled ever since the arrival of Jonathan Miller, the former CEO of AOL hired by News Corp. Chairman Rupert Murdoch in April to restructure its ailing internet unit. Mr. Miller brought in Mr. Van Natta, a former Facebook exec, as CEO and former Sling Media and MTV exec Jason Hirschhorn as chief product officer.
Online revenue at News Corp. -- mostly MySpace -- was off nearly 50% in the quarter ended June 30; digital revenue is off 20% over the past year.
In a memo, Mr. Van Natta described Media Link's role: "First, the firm will provide guidance as we reconfigure our ad products to meet the current needs of the marketplace. As a key strategic advisor and partner, they'll provide us with an external perspective on the larger advertising market as well as insight into what top clients (and those we are hoping to attract) are asking for."
Mr. Van Natta, who was hired in April and acquired music discovery service iLike earlier this week, said now he wants to "focus on ensuring we have the best advertising product, sales strategy, and team in the market."
Mr. Berman, he added, "has decided to explore other opportunities."