Kara Swisher

Recent Posts by Kara Swisher

Yahoo Restructures U.S. Ad Sales Force–With No New Head (But Apparently a Lot of Princes Charming)

Yahoo announced today that it was restructuring its advertising sales force, after being without a head of its key U.S. unit since mid-March.

Big news: No new top ad sales exec.

Instead, several North American sales execs with larger portfolios will report directly to Hilary Schneider, who is in charge of the Americas for Yahoo (YHOO).

“This elevates the strong talent and brings a broader set of voices one step higher in the organization,” said Schneider in an interview today. “The marketplace is changing rapidly and bringing complete solutions is really the mantra of where the market is going.”

This move is a shift from the direction Yahoo had been heading in since Joanne Bradford stepped down as head of U.S. revenue and market development for Yahoo in mid-March.

Schneider had been leading the search for an external replacement for Bradford, using star headhunter Jim Citrin of Spencer Stuart.

The company apparently was unable to land the kind of prominent name Yahoo had been seeking for the job, after trying to attract several well-known candidates and rejecting others.

“Our leadership in sales is the strongest to date,” said Schneider, explaining the new structure for its ad sales force. “I have kissed a lot of frogs over the years, but it turned out the Prince Charmings we always needed were back at the ranch.”

(Frogs? Prince Charmings? On a ranch? Block that metaphor, although BoomTown will go along anyway!)

“Each of our leaders has strong relationships with advertisers and they know and trust each other,” said Schneider. “I will be consolidating the operational hub and directly managing it this time.”

Among the changes:

Mitch Spolan, the 11-year Yahoo veteran who is in charge of North American field sales, will also pick up responsibility for agency development and relationships.

Seth Dallaire, who has been running mid-market sales, will now be in charge of channel sales, reseller relationships and new and emerging formats, such as video, local, social and mobile.

Frank Weishaupt, who has been in charge of marketplaces, will add sales operations and training and sales development to his portfolio.

Lastly, Jim Stothard, who has been in charge of account management, will be leaving Yahoo for personal reasons, but will be working with Schneider to find his replacement.

Schneider said the new sales structure will eliminate a layer of management to better focus on improving advertising sales

That’s important, due to Yahoo’s recent quarterly earnings report, in which it posted flat revenue compared to last year, despite a recovery of the display advertising market.

Display is an area in which Yahoo (YHOO) has long dominated, although Google (GOOG) and others have stepped up competitive efforts aggressively.

So, the slowness in filling the company’s key sales position has had a lot of people inside Yahoo a little jumpy, because of the importance of firm leadership in the premium display online ad business in which the Internet giant needs to keep excelling.

Microsoft (MSFT) recently hired one of the people Yahoo had considered–former MTV Networks ad exec Carolyn Everson–for its head of sales.

With Everson and others not panning out, one hope was that Patrick Keane, CEO of Associated Content, which Yahoo just acquired, would take the job. But sources said he declined the offer.

Yahoo also had eyeballed internal candidates, but it seems to have decided to simply kiss, oops, elevate almost all of them.

Said Yahoo in its official statement about the changes:

“Yahoo! is committed to maintaining and strengthening partnerships with advertisers and agencies, and has a long history of sales leadership in the industry. The North American sales organization will now report directly to Hilary Schneider, EVP of the Americas. This organizational change will elevate the strong executive talent at Yahoo! and accelerate our momentum in the marketplace.”

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald