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AOL Realigns Ad Sales Along Specific Categories; Five New ‘Practice Heads’

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As AOL’s dismal display revenues appears to have put the worst behind it, the company is refining its ad sales approach in the hopes of developing stronger focus on specific ad categories, including CPG/Health, Travel, Automotive, Finance and Entertainment.

The five teams — led by “practice heads” — will make up the new Industry Development unit within ad sales led by John Burke who joined AOL (NYSE: AOL) earlier this year. Technology and Retail will be named within the next month.

The moves on the ad side coincide with AOL’s changes on the content side following the $315 million merger with The Huffington Post.

Apart from the content side, there hasn’t been much talk about how AOL will merge the advertising teams, but today’s announcement offers some clues. It was noted early on that Greg Coleman, HuffPo’s former president and chief revenue officer (as well as briefly head of AOL’s advertising pre-Tim Armstrong), would not be joining following the completion of the purchase. (Coleman was recently tapped by retargeting company Criteo to lead its North American efforts.)

In addition to integrating HuffPo’s content verticals, which are divided into distinct channels, AOL’s advertising will adjust as well. Previously, AOL’s content had been placed within various blogs, some which have overlapped. The creation of teams around a clear set of general subjects like “entertainment” or “technology” is meant to reflect that. Beyond that, as automotives, finance and consumer packaging marketers increase their online ad spending, it makes sense for AOL to strike a greater connection there as well, given the emphasis the company has put on developing premium brand plays under its Project Devil large format display offerings.

The new practice heads for the AOL ad verticals are (click on the links for more details): Debbie Menin (Entertainment), Mike Feeley (Travel), Jennifer Willey (CPG/Health), Julia Edvardsson (Automotives), and Amy Starwalt (Finance).