Ms. Kayse's departure from AOL comes at a pivotal time for the soon-to-be-divided Time Warner property. During the past year, AOL has put much of its resources into building out Platform A, a collection of ad networks the company has acquired. It spent $900 million dollars in 2007 picking up assets, including behavioral network Tacoda, contextual-targeting network Quigo, mobile network Third Screen Media and, most recently, U.K.-based affiliate network Buy.at. Some have suggested that came at the expense of its portal and content business, although executives have said that growing visitors and time spent on AOL's owned and operated sites is a 2008 priority.
AOL's recent focus on advertising comes after it shed its long-standing subscription model. Just yesterday, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said he would separate AOL into two parts: the ad-supported audience business and the internet-access business. The move is seen as a way to prime parts or all of AOL for a sale.
Vision for how-to site
Ms. Kayse comes to Discovery just months after its $250 million acquisition of HowStuffWorks, a Wikipedia-esque site full of how-tos and factoids that marries Discovery's vast library of video content. Discovery CEO David Zaslav told Ad Age in October that his vision for the new site was to take advantage of keyword searches and other contextual opportunities to target ads on the site.
"It allows us to take what we have on hybrid cars and put it together with photos and text and offer a really interesting proposition to advertisers," he said. "If you get somebody in that serious moment with hybrid cars, we can super-serve that person by satisfying their curiosity about everything they want to know about hybrid cars. A good portion of those people aren't point-of-purchase, so it's a great opportunity to go to Ford or Toyota and say, 'Here's some great products you're selling. We have some consumers specifically interested in learning about those products.'"
In a statement, Ms. Kayse said of her new role, "Discovery has some of the most powerful brands in all of media, and having watched the company's recent expansion in the digital space, I was immediately drawn to the role." She added: "Discovery's mix of unmatched quality TV programming plus deeply contextual digital offerings equals countless opportunities for clients. [President-Advertising Sales] Joe Abruzzese is one of the most respected executives in the business, and I can't wait to get started."