MSLO Hires iVIllage's Lagani To Oversee Ad Sales

Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (NYSE: MSO) has hired ad sales veteran Joe Lagani to the newly-created post of chief revenue officer as the company seeks to balance out continued growth on the digital side with industrywide challenges affecting the print business.

In its Q3 earnings report last week, MSLO said that its publishing segment’s revenues were down 3.2 percent. At the same time digital sales rose 17 percent, while broadcasting dollars gained 14 percent. The opposite trajectory of those two revenue poles is something most major magazine publishers are dealing with to some extent. MSLO has been particularly aggressive in trying to drive cross-platform ad sales across its publishing and broadcasting units, but the weak economy has made the process more than challenging.

Lagani is viewed as someone well-versed in both sides of the print and digital divide and certainly can bring existing relationships with marketers and agencies to MSLO, though the company’s problem is not a lack of interest from brands — it’s the ability of the publisher, and its peers, to better manage the shift to digital as advertisers pull back due to economic uncertainty.

At the same time, MSLO is still clearing up some corporate uncertainty that’s hung over the business the past few months.

This past June, Blackstone was retained as an adviser to help MSLO see if it should sell the company completely, or in parts, seek investment capital or find alliances. Since that point, the company has said it is only looking for strategic alliances as Blackstone’s main focus. Separately, Martha Stewart had been preparing to rejoin the board last quarter, years after her conviction in charges related to a 2004 insider trading case.

At the same time, MSLO hired Oxygen co-founder Lisa Gersh as president and COO, as president and CEO of merchandising Robin Marino stepped down.The company also said that Gersh will become CEO within the next year or so
Even before June’s big announcement, MSLO had restructured its ad sales team in October 2010, making one person the focal point across all print, broadcast and online marketing efforts.

With the dust settled over last year’s ad sales reorganization, Lagani will be the focal point for the company’s advertising efforts. He left Glam Media just over two years ago to join NBC (NSDQ: CMCSA) Universal’s women’s content network iVillage, which was in the middle of its advertising turnaround at the time he signed on. He had previously been at Condé Nast and Meredith Corp. (NYSE: MDP) Release