Millard will focus on persuasion

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Wenda Harris Millard has her work cut out for her.

The longtime publishing and Internet executive, who joined Yahoo! last week as chief advertising sales officer (AA, Oct.8), comes aboard as the company posted another decline in revenue. The Sunnyvale, Calif., company saw third-quarter revenue plunge by almost half compared with the same period a year earlier, from $295.5 million to $166.1 million. Yahoo! posted a net loss of $24.1 million, compared with net income of $47.7 million for the same period during 2000.

Still, since Yahoo! is more dependent on ad revenue than AOL Time Warner's America Online and Microsoft Corp.'s MSN, Ms. Millard will be the company's most closely watched hire since former Warner Bros. exec Terry Semel joined as chairman-CEO earlier this year.

The appointment of Ms. Millard is another signal of the change Yahoo! is trying to make from Silicon Valley stalwart to Madison Avenue loyalist. Though Ms. Millard is known more recently for her Internet posts as president of Ziff Davis Internet and as exec VP at DoubleClick, she also has traditional media experience, having held top publishing posts at VNU and at Gruner & Jahr USA Publishing's Family Circle. She replaces Anil Singh, who joined the company in 1995 and left last spring. Mr. Singh had previously been head of sales at a mobile computing company.

Clearly, Ms. Millard, who is known for a collegial, relationship-oriented management style, plans to tap into all facets of her career. Asked last week about how she planned to go up against AOL and MSN, she stressed persuasion. "I get in a room one-on-one with these guys and say, `Let's talk,' " she said.

Modem Media VP-Director of Media Sharon Katz feels the approach will work. Citing dinner forums Ms. Millard initiated during her DoubleClick days in which media directors discussed industry issues, Ms. Katz is excited about the appointment. "She understands the agency business and the importance of relationships," she said.

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