Yahoo's Kevin Gentzel Is Out as North American Ad Sales Head

Yahoo Announced Former Washington Post Exec's Hire Seven Months Ago

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That was fast.

Seven months ago Yahoo poached Kevin Gentzel, The Washington Post's chief revenue officer, to oversee North American ad sales. Seven months later Mr. Gentzel is no longer with the company, a Yahoo spokeswoman confirmed. She declined to elaborate.

Digiday first reported news of Mr. Gentzel's departure on Wednesday.

It's unclear why Mr. Gentzel has left Yahoo so soon after joining the company or whether the decision was his or the company's. His hire was rated a coup for Yahoo based on his ties with advertisers and agencies -- and Yahoo's neglect of those sectors under CEO Marissa Mayer and her former chief operating officer, Henrique de Castro.

"He's got great relationships across the agency and client world for a number of years, between Forbes and The Washington Post and from both a print and digital standpoint," DigitasLBi chief investment officer Adam Shlachter said of Mr. Gentzel back in October.

Mr. Gentzel seemed to be a consummate sales executive, able to negotiate large-scale deals with brands, based on his work at thoe prior employers.

The biggest advertiser deal Yahoo has announced this year was Honda's year-long sponsorship of "Community," the sitcom that Yahoo picked up after NBC cancelled it.

But Yahoo's display advertising revenue has been plagued by an exodus from its lucrative so-called "premium" ads, such as home-page takeovers, which should have been Mr. Gentzel's bailiwick. While the company was able to grow its display revenue year-over-year in the first quarter of 2015 for the first time in nine periods, the premium sales slump continues. During the company's most recent earnings call, Ms. Mayer said the company's revenue from premium ads in the first quarter had declined 40% from the quarter a year earlier.

While companies like AOL and Disney's Maker Studios announced new deals with brands at their NewFronts presentations last month, partly to encourage other advertisers to follow suit, Yahoo didn't announce any.

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