Kevin Gentzel is out as head of sales at Yahoo, just six months into his tenure there, Digiday has learned. Gentzel was a seasoned print ad sales veteran when Yahoo poached him in October, having had stints as chief revenue officer at The Washington Post and Forbes before that.
Gentzel was at the forefront of the industry’s native advertising trend, having introduced editorial look-alike ad products at Forbes and later at the Post. He had good relationships with ad agencies, and he came to Yahoo at a time when the digital publisher was trying to improve its reputation with the ad community. Still, given Yahoo’s longstanding ad problems under CEO Marissa Mayer and Gentzel’s short time there, he might not have been able to make much of an impact.
As recently as the past few months, ad buyers were still giving Yahoo low marks for its various products. It has rolled out 13 digital “magazines” like Food and Politics since last year to attract premium advertising, but they’ve failed to gather big enough audiences to impress advertisers. Many of the so-called native ads that have run on the verticals are actually direct-response ads.
Agency executives have also complained that Yahoo’s salespeople are slow to respond to RFPs and were heavily focused on selling off-the-shelf deals or pushing them toward Yahoo’s more expensive premium magazine-style native ads — despite the format’s inventory constraints.
Yahoo’s ongoing revenue struggles were manifest in the company’s first-quarter results, when its advertising declined 7 percent.
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