AOL Ad Sales Plummet, Marketing Supremo Pays Price

09 January 2004

Just six months into her stint as evp of America Online's advertising sales unit, Lisa Brown has walked the plank -- not simply because of the ongoing plunge in revenues, insiders imply.

There is also the matter of some $40,000 of "questionable expenses", according to a report in the Wall Street Journal, although an unnamed colleague described the investigation as a routine audit and unconnected with Brown's departure.

Disemboguing oil on troubled waters, an AOL spokesman gushed: "During Lisa Brown's tenure the interactive marketing group made significant progress. Our advertising sales team is stronger, more responsive to advertisers and agencies, and selling more advertising than a year ago."

However, AOL's own published estimates for 2003 show there to have been a 35% to 45% drop in advertising income. Brown herself would say only that she had quit for health and personal reasons.

Meantime, AOL is in talks with Time Warner ad sales executive Michael J Kelly about overseeing the advertising sales group in addition to his other duties. Kelly failed to return a call seeking comment.

Data sourced from: The Wall Street Journal Online; additional content by WARC staff