New York — AOL, Inc. in its quest to compete with industry rivals, attempts to revitalize its emerging marketing unit, and over the weekend the company succeeded in appointing industry expert Erika Nardini, to assume the new position of vice president, head of marketing solutions for AOL Advertising.
A veteran of the media business, Nardini enters the company from Demand Media, where she served as senior vice president of sales and marketing. In her new capacity, Nardini is to assume the role of the “big idea” person for brands who hope to leverage all of the things AOL has to offer.
Nardini will be responsible for managing marketing and creative strategies for AOL’s advertising business. She will be stationed in New York, and will report to svp of AOL Advertising Jim Norton.
Erika Nardini joins AOL Advertising as vp, head of marketing solutions.
Commenting on the capabilities of its new appointee, the company executive said, “Erika is an industry leader having worked at major digital brands in key marketing roles,” said Norton. “I am excited to have her join the advertising leadership team as we continue to deliver high value solutions to our advertising and agency partners. She brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to this critical role.”
On the other hand, Nardini’s appointment also constitutes the latest move in an combative restructuring with AOL’s corporate marketing ranks. In fact, just last month, AOL dismissed CMO Jolie Hunt after just five months on the job, instead opting for a decentralized marketing structure. To counter that, the company recruited another industry veteran, Jack Bamberger, in November. “We are really building out an ad marketing solutions group,” said Norton. “It is almost our own in-house ad agency.”
Further adding, he said, “If you think of AOL’s ad business as a barbell, you have programmatic buying on one end,” Norton said. “Erika helps equalize that barbell. We are the brand company. And we need someone to focus on those big multimillion-dollar deals, and someone who can focus on the creative process and ideas. She’s got years of experience working with big brands.”
Indeed, this new role would seem to be right in Nardini’s wheelhouse. Having commenced her career in the agency world, Nardini logged stints at both Arnold and Digitas. After Digitas, Nardini worked at Microsoft as senior director of global branded entertainment, where she helped steward several of the company’s original Web content efforts, and then at Yahoo as vp of brand packaging.
Nardini joins the company from Demand Media, where she worked as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing. In this role, she was tasked with building the sales and marketing practices in support of the company’s display business across DMD’s four flagship properties. During her tenure with the company, she helped develop brand partnerships with premiere marketers such as The Home Depot, L’Oreal and Johnson & Johnson.
Moving further to explore brand horizon, in 2010 she followed former Yahoo and MSN sales chief Joanne Bradford to Demand, just as the low-cost content company’s business was set to take off. And now with the move to AOL, Nardini completes the portal triumvirate.
In her own words, she said, “I’m very, very passionate about content and brands.” “I have seen this business from any number of seats. For example, at Demand, we had a pretty radically different view. AOL is the full spectrum solutions for brands. We need to be able to position and package better solutions for brands, and this represented an opportunity to do that.”
Nevertheless, her departure could be seen as something of a blow to Demand, which saw several of its top executives leave about a year ago following an initially rocky IPO. Bradford and Nardini were said to be instrumental in helping make the Demand model palatable to traditional brand advertisers, helping attract the likes of The Home Depot, L’Oreal and Johnson & Johnson.
She further said, “AOL has long been at the forefront of content and brand experiences which has been my passion throughout my entire career,” said Nardini. “I believe in the power of digital marketing and content experiences to wow and delight consumers and advertisers alike. I am excited to join the AOL team to continue to grow and expand their leadership in this space.”
Nardini holds a BA from Colby College.