AOL Taps Lisa Brown as Ad-Sales Chief

America Online on Monday named Lisa Brown to succeed Robert Sherman as its executive vice president of interactive marketing. The former USA Interactive e-commerce executive will be charged with continuing the turnaround of AOL’s plummeting ad sales.

The appointment of Brown comes a week after Robert Sherman told the company he would return to retirement, after joining AOL a year ago to help turn around the company’s ad woes. Sherman made some strides toward accomplishing that, as AOL Time Warner executives recently said the ISP unit would sell more advertising than last year. Still, AOL’s ad sales fell more than 40 percent last year.

“Lisa Brown is the right person, with the right skills, to lead our advertising sales efforts,” said Jonathan Miller, AOL’s chairman and chief executive. “I’ve worked with Lisa for a number of years, and I know that she will be a great asset to AOL in her new role and will build on the progress we’ve made in turning around our ad sales.”

As head of ad sales, Brown will report to AOL Vice Chairman and President Ted Leonsis.

Brown joined AOL less than six months ago as Sherman’s deputy, brought on by Miller, who worked with her at USA Interactive.

At USA Interactive, Brown worked under Miller as head of the electronic solutions group from August 2000 until March 2001. Brown moved aside in March 2001 to serve as chief executive of a USA Interactive company, e-commerce technology provider Styleclick.

Since he took the reins at AOL last August, Miller has put more emphasis on leveraging AOL’s still-large subscriber base to establish buying relationships.

In addition to rolling out a number of premium services that he hopes will make AOL unique to other access providers, Miller has sought to link marketing partnerships more closely with AOL content. For example, yesterday AOL announced a promotional deal with Boeing to hype the aerospace manufacturer’s new 7E7 plane in AOL’s special aviation section.

AOL has also sought to give advertisers more rich media capabilities, as well as to follow the industry trend toward larger ad units and a standard package of sizes. Last week, AOL signed on to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s standard suite of four ad sizes, pledging to implement the units in 12 to 18 months.

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