Falco finds ad man for netco

Incoming AOL topper Randy Falco appointed Ron Grant as president and chief operating officer on Tuesday, making him what Falco called his “point person” as he attempts to build the portal into an advertising juggernaut.

Grant had been senior VP of business development at America Online before moving to Time Warner to become senior VP of operations, reporting to Time Warner prexy Jeff Bewkes.

Former AOL topper Jon Miller is credited with having converted AOL from a subscription Internet-access business to an ad-supported portal, but Bewkes said Grant “played a key role” in creating the plan for the switch.

“With his deep knowledge of the AOL business and Internet industry as well as his many relationships across Time Warner, Ron will be critical to our efforts to execute against AOL’s new strategy,” Falco said.

When Falco ankled NBC Universal to take the top job at AOL, the move was interpreted as a sign the Netco sought greater clout with Madison Avenue.

After 31 years as a TV ad exec, he watched TV’s share of the advertising pie erode as new media took a greater share each year while online advertising has been growing 20%-30% a year, he said.

“What we’re going to do is determine what our entitlement is in the marketplace and make sure we get our full share,” Falco said.

But Falco said his strategy won’t necessarily mean bringing more TV-like original content to the portal, at least not the type produced by the cable and broadcast nets he left behind.

Of video accessed on the Web, he said, 70%-80% is user-generated, he said. “It remains to be seen how important traditional video from traditional media companies is going to be on the Internet. Will it be a big player or a marginal player?”

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