AOL to Cut Marketing Staff, Sources Say

AOL Time Warner’s America Online unit is expected to shed 100 positions from its interactive marketing and ad sales division, as the New York-based media conglomerate continues efforts to shore up its Internet business.

The layoffs, which sources close to America Online indicated would occur this week, would leave about 650 remaining in the group. The division has offices in both New York City and at America Online headquarters in Dulles, Va.

The news, on which America Online spokespeople declined to comment, comes less than a month after AOL Time Warner reported slimming online ad sales — a result that newly installed chief executive officer Richard Parsons called “a disappointment.”

And, sources say, it’s that disappointment that is fueling the current housecleaning effort at the Internet unit, which is being more closely overseen by chief operating officer Bob Pittman — who received much of the credit for originally building America Online into the new media powerhouse that it became in the late 90’s — and Jimmy de Castro, a veteran in radio sales.

Accompanying de Castro’s appointment to the post of president of AOL Interactive services — which includes America Online — and Pittman’s return to Dulles from the corporate headquarters in New York, were a slew of departures and reassignments among the top brass at the Internet unit.

The changes include a possible reassignment of Don Davis, head of the vertical markets group in America Online ad sales, and Peter Askin, president of America Online’s product group.

At the same time, AOL elevated James Bankoff to the post of executive vice president of operations at AOL Interactive Services, and David Gang as executive vice president of product marketing at America Online. Both will report to de Castro, who in turn reports to Pittman.

Bankoff had previously served as head of the AOL Web Properties Group, vice president of strategy and operations for the AOL Brand, and as a director in AOL’s Electronic Commerce Business Development Group. Gang had held the post of senior vice president for strategic development, overseeing AOL 3.0, AOL 4.0, buddy lists, parental controls and AOL Instant Messenger.

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