AOL has its cake and eats it too, hiring the man who led Publicis Groupe's digital technologies wing and Razorfish, while also striking a partnership with the ad agency to jointly offer live advertising on AOL's digital network.
Ads have been AOL's stronger suit as its subscriber base continues to wane. In the first part of the year, AOL subscriber numbers shrunk but it increased revenue thanks to global ad and search revenue.
Bob Lord will become chief executive of advertising business AOL Networks as of August 1, reporting to CEO Tim Armstrong and becoming a member of the AOL corporate leadership team. AOL Networks brands include Advertising.com, AOL On Network, Be On, Adtech, and Pictela.
Armstrong has been working to stabilize and morph AOL through a tumultuous period of defections and shareholder complaints.
Lord will manage a new partnership between the two companies, called Publicis AOL Live, or what they've chummily nicknamed PAL. He'll chair the venture with three top Publicis executives, and both companies will contribute dedicated employees.
PAL is supposed to "deliver and manage live advertising on a global basis to digitally connected consumers" for marketers, which basically means figure out what live advertising on the Web is supposed to look like to be successful. They have until September 1, the anticipated launch date of the partnership, to figure it out.
The two companies have already been working together on tests of live advertising across AOL, such as on The Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and Engadget.