Verklin to Step Down as CEO of Aegis Media Americas

Industry Leader Expected to Head Cable VOD Effort 'Project Canoe'

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- David Verklin, CEO of Aegis Media Americas and one of the advertising industry's most visible and outspoken figures, will step down from his role later this year, his 10th at Aegis Media.

While Mr. Verklin hasn't announced a destination, executives familiar with the matter said he is expected to lead Project Canoe, a consortium of cable operators that is attempting to create a set of universal metrics for video on demand. Mr. Verklin said he is considering a range of options and has not accepted a position yet. As to why he's leaving, Mr. Verklin said: "It has been a fantastic 10 years, but at some point, it was a great time to transition and to pass the baton."

Restructuring
That baton will be passed to Sarah Fay, CEO of Carat U.S. and Isobar. She will be taking over for Mr. Verklin as CEO of Aegis North America. With Mr. Verklin's departure, the media network is also restructuring some operations. Aegis Media Americas is being split into Aegis Media North America and Aegis Latin America to reflect the growth Aegis has had in that market. Mainardo de Nardis, CEO of Aegis Media Global, said the agency has taken 14 months to make the transition.

Aegis was careful to distance the news of Mr. Verklin's departure from recent difficulties Carat U.S. has had with new-business pitches and account losses. Carat, which announced a sweeping reorganization around digital last summer, has lost a few big accounts in recent months, including Hyundai Motor Americas and New Line Cinema. According to RECMA, Carat's growth rate (including Vizeum) from January 2007 to January 2008 was down 31%.

"I don't want recent press on the success of Carat to get in the way of what we are [announcing] today," said Mainardo de Nardis, CEO of Aegis Media Global. "I want to underline that we have been growing this business for the last 10 years." Growth for the whole Aegis Media Americans network (including Carat) was 25% last year, according the company's annual report.

Universal metrics for VOD
Project Canoe is the colloquial name given to an as-yet-unnamed consortium of cable multisystem operators including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications and Cablevision that have been meeting during the past several months to create a set of universal metrics for VOD. The unit's goal is to make a hyperfragmented market more scaleable for advertisers and more universally measurable.

A Canoe rep couldn't be reached for comment by press time.

Frank Foster, co-founder of Erin Media and senior consultant for EVAD Consulting's TV-audience-measurement practice, said cable-industry heads have expressed a "strong desire for someone with agency experience to be at the top of any Canoe-led project. They want an outspoken, out-of-the-box thinker who can bring a media buyer's mentality to the process of media selling."

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Contributing: Andrew Hampp and Abbey Klaassen
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