Yahoo Taps Amazon's Utzschneider For Top Ad Role, Moves Brody To Head Ad Tech

Yahoo may be a step or two behind Facebook, Google and AOL in the programmatic ad tech space, but the company has made waves in recent weeks, indicating that it wants to get more involved in the game sooner rather than later.

The company on Thursday announced the appointment of Lisa Utzschneider as SVP of sales, Americas. She will report directly to Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO.

Utzschneider was most recently VP of global ad sales at Amazon, focusing on the online retail giant’s display ad efforts. According to eMarketer, Yahoo's share of the $50.73 billion U.S. digital advertising market is expected to drop below 5% this year, down from 5.8% in 2013. The move to acquire Utzschneider strengthens Yahoo's presence as it looks to turn things around.

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"Lisa has a demonstrated track record as a leader and as a business builder, focused on creating and expanding sales relationships as well as scaling technological innovation," stated Mayer. "She brings unique strengths to Yahoo in terms of identifying new opportunities to maximize the value of advertising in a rapidly expanding and evolving media landscape."

In addition, Yahoo has moved Ned Brody, formerly head of Americas, to the newly created position of SVP of advertising technology and strategy. Once he completes the transition into the role he will “focus on the deployment of advertising technologies and go to market strategies for Yahoo across it’s advertising portfolio.”

Earlier this year, Yahoo revamped the Right Media ad exchange and rebranded it as the Yahoo Ad Exchange. The company also fired its former COO, Henrique de Castro, with de Castro’s slow response to programmatic buying being reported as a potential cause for his departure. In short, an overhaul of leadership and refocus on programmatic advertising has been on Yahoo’s radar from the beginning of the year.

Chatter about Yahoo’s programmatic plans became more serious when TechCrunch recently reported that Yahoo is “in talks” to buy programmatic video ad platform BrightRoll for somewhere around $700 million. Yahoo had watched as AOL, Google and Facebook made massive acquisitions in the programmatic space, so it was not unexpected to see Yahoo make a move to buy before the well dried.

Yahoo's appointment of an SVP of ad tech and strategy, coupled with its successful bid to reel in a digital ad veteran of  Utzschneider's stature, further underscores Yahoo’s renewed focus in the digital ad space. 

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