Microsoft reorganizes around aQuantive acquisition

Microsoft reorganizes around aQuantive acquisition

Microsoft has appointed aQuantive's former CEO to lead a new division responsible for the bulk of its advertising strategy.

Microsoft has appointed the former CEO of aQuantive to head up a new division devoted to serving advertisers and publishers, moves that are part of the company's close of its acquisition of the digital media and advertising services firm.

Brian McAndrews is now senior vice president of the new Advertiser and Publisher Solutions Group (APS) at Microsoft, the company said Monday, announcing the completion of the US$6 billion aQuantive deal. Last week, aQuantive shareholders approved the purchase, first announced in May as part of Microsoft's strategy to compete head-to-head in online advertising with search giant Google Inc.

APS will be a part of Microsoft's Platforms & Services Division (PSD), and McAndrews will report to the president of that division, Kevin Johnson. As part of the reorganization, Microsoft also has formed the Emerging Media Group within APS to handle the functions of other advertising-related acquisitions, including Massive Inc. and ScreeTonic, which Cory Van Arsdale, CEO of Microsoft's Massive subsidiary, will continue to lead. The Emerging Media Group will report to Karl Siebrecht, president of Atlas, one of the entities Microsoft is acquiring in the deal.

McAndrews and the new APS group are responsible for building and marketing all of the technologies and operations around the buying, selling and exchange of online advertising, including all of the infrastructure Microsoft now has to serve up ads online and help advertisers and publishers connect. Among the products under the leadership of the division is Microsoft's adCenter platform that allows for the purchase of search-based advertising. Tools acquired from aQuantive that also are overseen by the division are Atlas, which is software for managing advertising campaigns, and DRIVEpm, which provides services to publishers and advertisers that match advertiser campaigns with publisher inventory. The interactive agency Avenue A Razorfish also will be a part of APS.

The Microsoft digital advertising sales force will remain part of Microsoft's Online Services Group (OSG), and Steve Berkowitz will remain senior vice president of OSG. Satya Nadella also will retain his role as senior vice president of the Search & Advertising Platform Group, and he and Berkowitz will continue to report to Kevin Johnson. OSG is responsible for serving Microsoft's online audience and delivering content and services via the portal, Windows Live and Live Search offerings, while Nadella's group is focused developing innovations in search and online advertising technologies. Along with McAndrews, Berkowitz and Nadella are responsible for Microsoft's comprehensive advertising strategy going forward, the company said.

Microsoft Chief Advertising Strategist Yusuf Medhi's role will change yet again; he is now senior vice president of strategic partnerships in the PSD, overseeing international mergers, acquisitions and partnerships as well as the management and development of strategic accounts and new relationships with startups and venture capital firms. Medhi had been a rising star with MSN before taking on his most recent role last March. Speculation was that he was forced out because of MSN's poor performance.

Another aQuantive executive, co-founder Mike Galgon, will assume Medhi's former role as chief advertising strategist and report to McAndrews.

In other housekeeping news, aQuantive employees will keep their offices in downtown Seattle. AdECN, another aQuantive property, also will continue operating out of its offices near Santa Barbara, California, and AdECN CEO Bill Urschel and his team will report to Alex Gounares, corporate vice president of adCenter and Commerce at Microsoft. Gounares is part of Nadella's team.

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