AOL’s Jim Norton Focuses on Quality Content and Premium Formats

Jim Norton was recently named Head of AOL Sales. He is a seasoned media professional, having held management roles at companies including Google and WLVI-TV, a Tribune Broadcasting station. We recently spoke with Jim about his new role and expectations for 2012.

The Makegood: Jim, you have spent about 20 years in sales and marketing roles, working in both traditional and digital media for companies including WLVI-TV and Google. What motivated you to make the move from traditional to digital media?

JN: I made the switch in 2006 from traditional to digital.  What I kept hearing from customers on the traditional side was a call for metrics and measurement and the “ask” to justify every advertising buy.  It was clear that even traditional media buyers were beginning to look at their business through a digital lens.

I decided to take the customer service aspect of traditional and marry that with the analytics and heavy metrics of digital. It was a good combination for me personally.  It was clear too that digital was seeing year-over-year gains and TV was not. So ultimately digital was the place to be.

The Makegood: Can you tell us about your role and expectations for your first year as VP Sales AOL Advertising?

JN: My role is head ofAOLSales, and I am responsible for all advertising revenue at AOL. AOL has multiple streams of revenue, but the primary focus as a company is advertising revenue.

My expectation is that AOL will be viewed as the premier, go to digital media partner for brands large and small. We aim to respond quickly with the most creative and efficient solutions and then deliver on exactly what we sold. When an agency client calls at 5pm on a Friday to launch a digital campaign on Monday, we want that call.

The Makegod: Recently, you were quoted as saying sales of video ads are a “huge priority” for AOL. What is it about video that makes it so important?

JN: As digital marketers aim to take advantage of the benefits of the site, sound and motion of video, we are seeing video increasingly become a larger percentage of each digital buy. We know that more than 50 percent of the U.S. population engages with online video. Because of our investment in video, we now have more video streams than Yahoo, Hulu and Facebook. We have the ability to unlock traditional broadcast dollars with our video offering.

The Makegood: Are there any new initiatives that you can tell us about that marketers can expect to see coming from AOL in 2012?

JN: We are focused on the priorities that we have messaged consistently over the last 2 years: Creating high quality content experiences for consumers as scale. We are going to continue to invest in premium formats (Project Devil) and you will see that available at greater scale; video and mobile will continue to offer robust targeting capabilities and across higher quality content experiences; and we remain committed and enthusiastic about the local opportunity that Patch offers to marketers as they try to move users from pages to parking lots. This is the year we will unleash the power of the social platform that is the Huffington Post.

The Makegood: Thanks, Jim.