AOL Snags Viacom’s Connected Content Chief To Lead Video Charge

DermotMAOL on Tuesday appointed Dermot McCormack president of AOL Video and AOL Studios, its original content production arm.

McCormack, formerly Viacom’s head of connected content, will replace Ran Harnevo, a key player in the development of premium online video content network AOL On, who is pursuing “other opportunities.”

McCormack’s appointment comes at a pivotal period in time for AOL, which revealed during last week’s Programmatic Upfront its plan to push further into programmatic video and TV targeting.

AOL’s development of a programmatic marketing stack “ONE” appears to be in lockstep with its efforts in video and original content. During its star-studded newfront in April, AOL claimed all AOL On Original and reserve inventory would be available for sale programmatically through

“That’s the vision over time,” McCormack told AdExchanger when asked if AOL had executed on that promise. He called the process of enabling programmatic insertions in all video inventory a “several-prong approach” that requires an aggregation of premium content, distributing it to different devices like connected TVs and iPads “and peppering it with new original formats that will help grow audience.”

McCormack will be responsible for continuing AOL’s distribution of 50 original series and curated and original video content to 15 connected platforms like Apple TV and determining audience penetration on those devices.

“One of the challenges when you’re a big TV company, like where I was, is you live predominantly in a Nielsen world,” McCormack said. It’s “tremendously frustrating” when viewership moves to new platforms, but cable operators and programmers still subscribe to the constructs of a 20,000-household television viewer panel, he said.

“When it comes to how we measure viewership and audience across myriad devices and connected televisions, there’s room for the industry to get better,” he added. “Over the next year, I think you’ll see numbers that capture where the viewership is really going. I think AOL is in good shape there.”

McCormack’s appointment follows AOL’s July hire of a global head of video sales, who is tasked with accelerating AOL Video’s relationships with brand marketers and agency holding companies. McCormack said AOL is divorcing itself from any one descriptor – be it content producer, ad tech vendor or media company – because he claims they encompass all three.

“I do believe that programmatic advertising is part of [AOL Video’s] future in how we integrate and infuse great content,” he said.


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