Google Confirms Ad Products Chief Susan Wojcicki to Lead YouTube

Executive Shakeup Signals Recommitment to Advertising

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YouTube is getting a new face and one that advertisers might like.

Longtime Google advertising executive Susan Wojcicki has been named senior VP of YouTube, Google has confirmed. The Information and Re/code had earlier reported that Ms. Wojcicki would take the lead at YouTube from CEO Salar Kamangar. The appointment is effective immediately.

"Salar and the whole YouTube team have built something amazing. YouTube is a billion person global community curating videos for every possibility. Anyone uploading their creative content can reach the whole world and even make money. Like Salar, Susan has a healthy disregard for the impossible and is excited about improving YouTube in ways that people will love," Google CEO Larry Page said in a statement.

Susan Wojcicki
Susan Wojcicki

One of Google's first twenty employees, Ms. Wojcicki has been involved a number of the company's most signficant acquistions, including the $3.1 billion DoubleClick deal, and risen to become senior VP of advertising and commerce and one of CEO Larry Page's top lieutenants.

Ms. Wojcicki has a steller track record running Google ad products; her appointment could be interpreted as an acknowledgement from Google that it needs to bolster YouTube's advertising business. The video service dominates the ad-supported online video market with more than 1 billion monthly viewers, but it doesn't have a proportional grasp on online video ad dollars.

YouTube accrued $5.6 billion in gross ad revenue last year, according a widely-cited estimate from eMarketer. And the service pulled in 21% of all U.S. video ad revenues. YouTube routinely accounts for 40% of U.S. video views.

All of the Ad age top 100 advertisers may run ads on YouTube, but they seem to be paying less for those placements. The average preroll ad on the site (not including those sold directly) has fallen from $9.26 for every thousand impressions in the second quarter of 2012 to $7.49 in Q2 2013, according to TubeMogul.

Yet a gap between YouTube's dominance in digital video and its ad revenue persist. YouTube's most valuable ad products are home-page takeovers and TrueView ads that people can skip after five seconds without advertisers being charged, but neither are a must-buy, the buyer said.

"YouTube kind of chugs along. For something that's the second-largest search and number-one video site, it's woefully underrepresented among agencies," said an agency exec.

In that context, the CEO shakeup could be considered a referendum on outgoing chief Salar Kamangar. Mr. Kamangar's desire to leave the top post at YouTube has been an open secret discussed widely at YouTube's content partners. "He would not be pushed out; he is too close to Larry," said one executive. "He's a God at Google," said another.

At the same time talk has swirled around which of Mr. Kamangar's top two lieutenants might inherit the position: content boss Robert Kyncl or product-and-ads exec Shishir Mehrotra. One online video network executive said the notion of Mssrs. Mehrotra and Kyncl becoming co-CEOs had been floated.

But others said Mr. Mehrotra was the frontrunner for the long position, and his appointment would indicate a commitment to beefing up YouTube's advertising business. That message will still get across, but it appears to be Ms. Wojcicki who will communicate it.

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