MySpace to Hire Media Link (and Millard) to Fix Ad Sales; Berman Out
UPDATE: In an internal memo, MySpace is now telling employees that current ad sales head Jeff Berman is leaving the company.
In a move that will surely have Madison Avenue talking, well-known online advertising sales executive Wenda Harris Millard (pictured here)–who is now president of New York- and Los Angeles-based media consultancy Media Link–is poised to take over all advertising sales at MySpace, sources said.
But, in an unusual twist, she will remain in her job at Media Link, which has also been hired by MySpace to advise on restructuring the social networking company’s salesforce.
Sources said the arrangement is expected to be announced sometime today.
While details are still being hashed out, Millard–who was the top ad exec at Yahoo (YHOO) in its glory days and who recently left her job as co-CEO of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO)–will apparently report to MySpace CEO Owen Van Natta directly.
In turn, all regional advertising vice presidents at MySpace will report to her. Millard is likely to work out of New York, where she lives and where the Beverly Hills, Calif.-based MySpace also has offices.
(You can see a video interview that BoomTown did with Millard a year ago below, when she was still at MSLO.)
This is a big coup for Media Link, which was founded by Michael Kassan, given that it will essentially be running a major part of the business of MySpace as MySpace seeks to reinvigorate itself, spur innovation and reset its product strategy.
Media Link hired Millard in April, which turned out to be a good move as she appeared to be the obvious draw for MySpace, as well as News Corp. (NWS) execs.
She is well known to them, as well as to many in both the Internet and advertising industries. Millard has been a longtime online exec, working at Ziff Davis Media and DoubleClick in the very early days of the Web. She was also chairman of the Interactive Advertising Bureau last year until this past April.
MySpace also reportedly talked to several big online advertising sales execs like Millard about the job, according to several sources outside the company.
This development now leaves the fate of President of Sales and Marketing Jeff Berman (pictured here) unclear.
But several sources told me Berman–whom I wrote earlier this summer was “rumored to be on the bubble,” but remaining for the time being–has been actively looking for a new job in the past few weeks and even told at least one person he spoke to that he was going to be “gone from MySpace by Labor Day.”
Probably sooner, now that MySpace is about to hire Millard and her firm to take over a big part of his job.
Yesterday, MySpace made another splashy move by buying the social music site, iLike, the first acquisition by its new exec team, as part of a move to push the “socialization of content.”
In a statement in the press release about the iLike acquisition, Van Natta might be seen as tipping his hand a little bit: “We are deeply committed to bringing world class talent into all areas of the company….”
Seasoned and experienced management was a point he also emphasized in a conference call with media yesterday about the iLike deal.
Millard is certainly that.
And, in fact, there has been a clearing out of almost all of MySpace’s former top execs and replacement with new blood–such as former Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook alum Katie Geminder as SVP of user experience and design and Mike Macadaan, who is VP of product.
It is a process that is doubtlessly going to continue as Millard comes in and cleans house–and it will be interesting to see just what talent comes in next.
Here’s Millard in action in my video interview with her last July, in which she talks about advertising on social networking sites and lots of other stuff:
(Full disclosure: News Corp., owner of MySpace, also owns Dow Jones, which owns this site.)