Over the summer, AOL CEO Tim Armstrong bounced his sales chief Jeff Levick, who is now at Spotify, and replaced him with a former Advertising.com executive Ned Brody, who was named AOL’s new chief revenue officer. At that time, a sales executive named Jim Norton was promoted to svp. Now, just five months later, as AOL’s ad sales show some signs of life, Norton is now AOL’s new head of sales.
Good for Norton, of course. But the move begs the question: What changed in the last five months? Armstrong strongly implied at the time that he was reorganizing sales to get the formula right for AOL’s next phase. At the time of the Levick ouster, Armstrong defended installing an ex Ad.com executive (given AOL’s Platform-A history) comparing Brody to “a general manager.”
It could be that Norton is the traditional brand-oriented sales guy AOL needed to complement Brody? Turns out Norton’s previous job was at Google. But prior to that role Norton logged stints at TV and radio stations, and even in brand marketing at Miller Brewing Company. No matter what, Norton has what’s probably an underrated asset of AOL’s: a large, experienced sales team with relationships at top brands. It’s not something to be discounted, even in this seeming age of automation.