As AOL (NYSE: AOL) continues to build out its local presence with Patch and other features, the company is bringing in former Yahoo (NSDQ: YHOO) Hotjobs exec Mike DeLuca to head up local ad sales. He’ll work on coordinating with AOL Advertising, which handles national ads. DeLuca’s oversight goes beyond Patch and includes a regional and local sales team for that hyperlocal network as well as for the recently revived City’s Best, MapQuest, and its “Wow! Deal of the Day” properties. Additionally, his team will sell geo-targeted ads on AOL.com and AOL Mail.
De Luca starts his new job next week.
He joins AOL from local online ad sales and lead gen provider Yodle, where he was the SVP of Sales and Marketing. He was there for nearly three years. During his tenure, Yodle’s sales team grew from 25 to over 150 sales people. Before Yodle, De Luca served as VP of sales for Yahoo’s HotJobs division, which was sold last February to Monster. He was there for four years starting in 2003.
Over the past year, local has been one of the main areas AOL has aggressively focused on. Naturally, there’s a lot of competition for those untapped local online ad dollars — which is estimated to be worth at about $14 billion, according to local ad analyst Borrell Associates. Yahoo and Google (NSDQ: GOOG) have also been placing more emphasis on building local ad sales over the past several months. The competition has expanded as companies have discovered discount deals sites.
While AOL has been setting up its own local discount site, Google is reportedly in the process of buying the fast-growing Groupon network for an estimated $5 to $6 billion, depending on who you read (AllThingsD has it pegged at the low end, while Dealbook says it could be a bit higher). In any case, at this point, there’s a lot of local ground to cover, so it doesn’t appear that that any one of the major online ad sales giants are going to dominate the space at the moment. But the next few months will certainly be interesting to watch as each jockeys for position. Release