Penry Price, a five-year Google veteran who previously held the post of VP-ad sales for the North America region, will head agency and industry relations for the search giant. The move comes amid a reorganization of the sales team, which is now headed globally by Nikesh Arora, who took over the role vacated by Omid Kordestani, and Dennis Woodside, who recently assumed the role of VP-Americas operations, replacing longtime sales chief Tim Armstrong, who left to lead AOL.
Under the new structure, Google's sales team will be organized by industry vertical; previously it had both regional and industry-vertical teams. Mr. Woodside will have three direct reports, each responsible for several verticals. John McAteer, who headed the retail vertical, will oversee the retail and technology industries; Jim Lecinski, who headed Google's central region, will oversee consumer package goods, business-to-business and local sales; and Bonita Stewart, who headed the auto vertical, will oversee auto, finance, travel, and media and entertainment sales.
Most of the sales execs affected by the reorganization will find other roles within Google. According to a Google exec, a small number -- about half a dozen people -- may leave the company under the reorganization.
Filling gap left by Tim Armstrong's departure
Mr. Price is well-known and respected among agencies and marketers and will fill a key gap left by Mr. Armstrong, whom many large agencies and marketers counted on as a key contact and ally at Google. He -- along with former DoubleClick CEO David Rosenblatt, who is leaving his post as head of display advertising at Google -- was also suggested by many industry watchers as a possible replacement for Mr. Armstrong. Keeping Mr. Price at Google will be key for the company.
Google's relationship with industry associations and some major agency constituents was tested in 2008 as it tried to pass a search deal with Yahoo. Ultimately, Google abandoned the deal after the Federal Trade Commission said it would look into it -- but along the way several key organizations, such as the Association of National Advertisers and the International Advertising Association, came out opposing the deal. Strengthening relationships with those groups globally will be part of Mr. Price's role, as will stepping up Google's outreach to agencies, something Mr. Woodside emphasized to Ad Age earlier this year.
"[In Europe] we had a fairly strong and deep program with the big six agency groups. ... Bringing a bit of that to North America will be a priority," Mr. Woodside said. "It's stepping up what we're doing. It's adding more structure and resources. The teams that serve the agencies now, relative to our overall business, are fairly small in number. It's making sure we have the right number of people focused on that community."