The downside of programmatic: AOL lays off 150 staffers, most in ad sales

Web and online video portal AOL laid off 150 employees, mostly from its advertising sales unit, saying its increased reliance on programmatic buying (an automated way to sell and place online ads) has made their jobs superfluous.

AOL increased its programmatic sales from 2 percent in early 2013 to 40 percent at the end of 2014.

A source told Business Insider that a majority of the ad unit's sellers, as well as regional managers and sales directors, will be let go, while account managers will keep their jobs.

The Wall Street Journal reported that some sales talent will remain, albeit with new titles. Brad Elders, SVP of East Coast sales, will take over a new content marketing team with a focus on video campaigns.

Bob Lord, global CEO of platforms at AOL, issued a buzzword-heavy memo aiming to reassure its advertising clients that the organizational shuffling is in their best interests. He touted a new "multidisciplinary team structure" that would offer help navigating the disruptive online industry "proactively and holistically," adding: "This team is comprised of content and programmatic experts, helping you shape integrated advertising programs through our open, self-service tools, as well as premium, original content solutions."

Insiders weren't so enthusiastic, telling BI that account managers are vulnerable with no sales management to back them up, and that "clients will be enraged that this team is left to pick up the pieces."

In addition to its bloodletting in sales, AOL consolidated some of its websites. Gaming blog Joystiq was shuttered and its editorial staff laid off, while Apple news site TUAW was folded into Engadget and AOL Autos rolled into Autoblog.

For more:
- the New York Post has this story
- Business Insider has this story
- TechCrunch has this story

Related articles:
Verizon's McAdam says AOL is not acquisition target, hints at higher Q4 churn
Year in Review: Online video advertising takes a credibility hit
AOL spends $50M to buy online video management player Vidible
Social media is key to monetizing online video, report says

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