AOL Advertising CMO Erika Nardini Steps Down

Company's Ad-Tech CMO Will Add Ms. Nardini's Duties

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Erika Nardini
Erika Nardini

Erika Nardini, AOL's marketing chief for its advertising division, has decided to leave the company at the end of the year. She will be succeeded by Allie Kline, CMO of AOL's ad-tech division, who will assume Ms. Nardini's duties in addition to her existing ones.

"Erika has decided to leave AOL at the end of 2014. We thank her for her contributions and wish her well in her next endeavor," said AOL spokeswoman Caroline Campbell in an emailed statement. "Allie is a proven strategic marketer who has led the transformation of AOL's platform business over the last two years. She will take on the larger global marketing role at AOL, as we continue to focus on video, programmatic and premium content solutions for brands, agencies and publishers."

AOL is expected to announce the changes to employees Monday afternoon.

As CMO of AOL Advertising, Ms. Nardini led marketing for AOL's ad products, managed internal communications and also oversaw AOL's creative services team. While Ms. Kline has focused on promoting AOL's ad-tech products that automate the sale of ads on and off AOL's sites, Ms. Nardini was charged with touting the more brand-friendly ad opportunities on AOL's owned-and-operated properties, such as its "Rising Stars" interactive banner ads and the premium video it pitched at its annual Digital Content NewFronts presentation.

Ms. Kline and Ms. Nardini both joined AOL in January 2013. Over the past 22 months, however, AOL's ad-tech and premium advertising businesses have begun to converge, with the ad-tech organization becoming the company's biggest revenue generator.

In the third quarter of 2014, AOL's overall advertising revenue rose by 18% year-over-year to $473.4 million. AOL's ad-tech division contributed the largest piece of that revenue among AOL's main revenue streams. The division's overall contribution grew by 44% year-over-year to $271.9 million. Meanwhile the company's revenue from display ads shown on its own sites -- which includes ads sold by the ad-tech division but also the premium ad sales from Ms. Nardini's division -- slipped, albeit by less than 1%, to $141.5 million despite unspecified growth in the average price of those ads.

Ms. Nardini has a strong background working with brand advertisers on so-called premium packages. Prior to joining AOL in January 2013, she had been Demand Media's senior VP of sales and marketing and focused on bringing brand advertisers into the fold. She previously held roles at Yahoo and Microsoft charged with securing branded content deals.

Ms. Nardini reported to AOL's ad sales boss, Jim Norton. Her direct reports included AOL's head of sales product marketing and internal communications, Michele Morelli. In total she is said to have managed between 25 and 30 employees, including the 7 to 10 people who worked on AOL's creative services team.

The American Advertising Federation inducted Ms. Nardini into its Advertising Hall of Achievement last Tuesday, two days before she is said to have resigned from AOL. But she wasn't the only one recently honored; Ms. Kline received the ad:tech Industry Achievement Award earlier this month.

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