Yahoo!’s Millard Departs

NEW YORK Yahoo! continues to shuffle its management ranks: An overhaul of its ad sales division will see longtime senior executive Wenda Harris Millard leave the company for Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia.

At Martha Stewart, Millard will be president of media, tasked with managing the company’s publishing, Internet and broadcast properties. She has been on the board at the company for the past three years.

Yahoo! has been operating two ad sales forces, one for search and another for display. It will now unify the teams under the leadership of David Karnstedt, who ran the search unit.

The move was necessary because advertisers and agencies want a single point of contact for both types of campaigns, according to Greg Coleman, evp of global sales at Yahoo!

“You can’t have two leaders of a unified organization, and we chose David,” said Coleman, who brought Millard to Yahoo! six years ago.

Millard, a former DoubleClick executive and publisher of Adweek, is widely credited with turning around Yahoo!’s advertising business in the wake of the dot-com bust. Yahoo! was suffering from the market meltdown and also from a reputation among many buyers for arrogance during the good times.

Millard forged close ties with Madison Avenue and reorganized Yahoo!’s sales force. She was a fixture at industry events, most recently representing Yahoo! last week at the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival. In an interview there Thursday, she gave no indication that she would leave the company.

Millard’s departure is the latest in a series of management changes. Last week, Yahoo! founder Jerry Yang replaced Terry Semel as CEO.

The company also said its revenue forecast for the quarter would come in at the low end of expectations as a result of slower than anticipated display ad sales.

Yahoo!’s move to a single sales group has been in the works for the past year, as the company had increasingly sent members from both organizations to visit customers. Coleman said the ad hoc approach was not enough in the rapidly changing market, particularly as studies done by Yahoo! and others confirmed how search and display ads work together.

“Our advertisers that are on top of their games are looking to us for advertising solutions, regardless if they’re search or display,” he said.

Karnstedt joined Yahoo! through its acquisition of Overture, the paid search specialist. Prior to Overture, he worked at Wired Digital Lycos and Alta Vista. Coleman said he was the best candidate for the position because he “was well-respected and embraced the philosophy of combining the teams.”