Replaced By Machines: Fox Audience Network Lays Off 5% Of Staff

Fox Audience Network, the ad sales company that handles the bulk of advertising sales for News Corp. properties like MySpace and IGN, will let around 5% of staff go today, or roughly 15 people. All of the people being let go are in direct sales, we’ve heard.

A sign that FAN’s ad sales business is crumbling? Maybe not. We’ve heard separately that the self serve part of the business is booming and already in the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue per year. The self serve network first launched in late 2007 and let’s advertisers “hyper target” display ads against aggregated user information gathered mostly from MySpace. Facebook has a similar product.

FAN continues to hire engineers, we’ve confirmed, despite the fact that they’re letting sales people go. Much of FAN’s lower end direct sales business can be moved to the self serve product. So FAN wants to bulk up on engineers and ween themselves off direct salespeople, who are costly.

Update: FAN President Adam Bain sent an email to all employees announcing the changes:

Sales and Marketing Reorganization

Earlier today we formalized a number of changes to the Sales and
Marketing organization under Marco, that I wanted to share with you.
As the role of technology continues to evolve in our space, we have
re-aligned our Sales and Marketing groups to better leverage our
competitive advantage in self-serve advertising and support FAN’s
direct sales efforts as efficiently as possible. As part of this
reorganization, we are promoting and moving some people into new
roles, and have conducted a small number of job cuts – less than 5% of
our overall staff – which will help realign our sales resources with
our highest-priority objectives. We are moving this headcount into
engineering and product so we can continue our platform growth for the
next fiscal year and in the long term.

As part of this reorganization, we’re creating the Media Operations
team by combining the Sales Operations and Publisher Operations teams.
The Media Operations team will be responsible for the oversight of
campaigns from start to finish – encompassing inventory acquisition,
campaign optimization, post-campaign support and analytics. By having
a single team responsible for campaigns throughout their lifecycle, we
can more effectively and seamlessly serve clients. Mark Papia will be
leading this team until we are able to hire a new VP, Media Operations
– a role which will report directly to Marco, and one for which we are
aggressively recruiting. A couple personnel changes within the Media
Operations team include:
• The Publisher Operations team will be led by Chris Catlow, who has
been promoted to Exec. Director of Publisher Network and will oversee
the day-to-day operations of the team that supports our publishers.
• Matt Barash has been promoted to Sr. Director of Publisher
Development and will continue to lead our inventory acquisition
• We are creating a team of optimization experts that will help ensure
that we meet both Advertiser and Publisher expectations. This effort
will be led by Jacqueline Graham and Anthony Palella. Ryan
Charpentier, Director of Account Management, will continue to lead our
Account Management teams working closely with both Publisher
Operations and Optimization teams.

In addition to the changes within the Media Operations team, we’ve
promoted some people in our self-serve business. Jason White,
currently our VP of Network Development, has been promoted to SVP,
MyAds, reporting to Marco. In this role, he will be responsible for
the sales and marketing efforts for MyAds. Jason’s success over past
year in growing our publisher network and working closely with our
product/technology teams ensures he will see similar success in
elevating the MyAds business to the next level. Also on the MyAds
team, Steve Wilcox has been promoted to Exec. Director of Marketing
and will continue to lead the marketing efforts of our self-serve
product. This platform has seen terrific success in the past year, and
I expect these changes will allow us to better manage and drive
further growth within this segment of our business.

Additionally, David Anderson has been promoted to VP, Sales Strategy
and Planning, and his team will continue to support planning, tracking
and cross-team communication within our sales organization.

Lastly, we are in the process of searching for a SVP, Sales and
Marketing who will be responsible for our National direct sales
efforts and the marketing teams that support those initiatives. Dan
Weiner and Michelle Wright will continue to lead our efforts in their
respective regions.

Please join me in congratulating those people moving into new roles. I
know some of the changes we have made have been difficult ones, but I
am confident that as a whole they will help in creating an
organization that best aligns our teams with the needs of our
advertisers and publishers.