Lord Named CEO, AOL Networks

Determined to avoid another disappointing quarter, AOL on Friday named Bob Lord -- former Global CEO of Razorfish and CEO of Publicis Groupe’s Digital Technologies Division -- as CEO of AOL Networks.

Beginning August 1, Lord will oversee all aspects of AOL Networks, which includes Advertising.com, AdTech, Pictela, Be On, and AOL On. By AOL’s count, the tech-centric unit encompasses roughly 22,000 publishers, and 4,000 advertiser and agency clients.

The move follows AOL's failure to beat analysts’ revenue expectations for the first quarter of the year, which was largely attributed to weaknesses in its highly touted third-party ad network business.
 
Traffic acquisition costs related to AOL Networks increased by 11% during the quarter, which the company conceded were faster than third-party network revenue. Third-party network revenue increased by 10% during the quarter, compared with 31% growth over the previous three-month period.

On Friday, however, Lord had nothing but good things to say about AOL and its prized ad unit. “In my position at Razorfish, I got a front row look at the competitive advantage of the AOL Network technology and the progress the business has made over the past couple of years.”

Yet, in the first quarter, AOL Networks adjusted OIBDA decreased year-over-year due to higher research and product development costs, which it attributed to investment in its demand-side platform, Adlearn Open Platform and the launch of its supply-side platform, AdTech Marketplace.

“It appears that AOL sold more of its owned inventory and there was a shift in revenues from Networks to Brands,” Victor Anthony, an analyst at Topeka Capital Markets, wrote in a research note. “OIBDA loss of $2.5mm, missed our $1.8mm profit estimate and the consensus of $5mm due to investments in video and their SSP and DSP platforms.”

Separately on Friday, AOL and Publicis Groupe announced the launch of PAL, which stands for Publicis AOL Live, and represents a broad partnership with a focus on live, multichannel marketing efforts.
 
Heading up the effort, Lord will co-chair the partnership with Rishad Tobaccowala, Chair of Razorfish/DigitasLBi; Laura Desmond, Chief Executive of Starcom MediaVest Group; and Tom Bernardin, Chief Executive of Leo Burnett Company.

With dedicated employees from both AOL and Publicis, PAL plans to provide clients on the advertiser and publisher side a full suite of “live” advertising services, including creative, planning, serving, syndication, measurement, analytics, and global windowing distribution.

Publicis and AOL began testing live advertising on AOL properties earlier this year. The two companies are currently running live advertising across AOL, The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, Engadget, Patch, Mapquest, and more than 250 publishers in the AOL Networks syndicated network.

In one test, Publicis Groupe’s digital agency DigitasLBi partnered with Huffington Post in 2012 to bring live advertising to the agency’s real-time content platform, BrandLIVE.

Lord has been at Razorfish since 2000, prior to Publicis’ acquisition in 2009. Most recently, he has also been CEO of the company’s Digital Technologies Division, which includes Razorfish, the DigitasLBi network and Denuo

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