Thursday, August 30, 2007
Is Yahoo ad sales purge going too far?
Here's a look at the staff memo (WSJ online subscription required until Rupert opens the floodgates) distributed to Yahoo employees yesterday about the latest reorg, which buries the lead that Greg Coleman, the former Reader's Digest exec who was exec vp/global sales, is leaving the company. The specific passage about Coleman is the usual corporate pablum: " ... we mutually agreed that Greg would leave Yahoo! to pursue other opportunities. We are fortunate that he will continue to assist us in this transition through February, closely advising the team ... " The departure of Coleman is hardly surprising, but I keep wondering whether this throwing-out-the-baby-with-the-bathwater approach Yahoo has been taking with its ad sales team and top management will wind up being a mistake. Changes need to be made, certainly, but the whole reason the Coleman/Wenda Harris Millard team was brought in under former CEO Terry Semel was to help mainstream advertisers become comfortable with advertising online, and so they used old-fashioned Madison Avenue methods, such as hand-holding and inspiring creatives to create decent online ads, to get the ad deals rolling in. Advertisers are more comfortable online than they were six or so years ago—when the Terry Semel era began—but there are plenty of advertising and media people, with huge budgets, that still appreciate the old-style approach. For Yahoo's sake, let's hope that Hilary Schneider, the former Knight-Ridder exec who will now largely be in charge of Yahoo's advertising relationships, plans to continue some of what the former team built.