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AOL names Pence CTO

William Pence, a veteran of WebMD and Napster, will be AOL's new chief technology officer. AOL is working to be more of an ad platform player to enterprises.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

AOL on Monday named William Pence as chief technology officer. Pence is a veteran of WebMD and Napster.

At AOL, Pence will oversee the company's technology strategy around the world. At WebMD, Pence was focused on automating technology and operations, cloud computing, mobile products and data management.

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Pence joins AOL April 30 and replaces Curtis Brown, who will stick around through a transition period. Pence will report to CEO Tim Armstrong.

Before going to AOL, Pence was CTO at WebMD since 2007 and chief operating officer since 2012. He was CTO at Napster since 2003 before joining WebMD. Pence was also CTO for Universal Music Group's online initiatives and Pressplay joint venture with Sony.

Pence's arrival comes amid a few moving technology parts at AOL. Last month, AOL launched its programmatic ad platform, dubbed ONE. The idea is that AOL's ad platform will work across multiple screens including TV, tablets and smartphones.

ONE rolls up AOL's various ad platforms such as Adap.tv, AdLearn Open Platform and Marketplace.

AOL plans to sell ONE as an enterprise ad platform. AOL will also use it as its platform.

According to analysts, AOL's ONE has potential to drive revenue growth since its ad platforms delivered triple-digit revenue growth in the fourth quarter.

JMP Securities analyst Ronald Josey said:

Given the growth in AOL’s programmatic offerings, including the announcement of ONE by AOL, we believe AOL is taking share of online ad budgets as a greater percentage of ad budgets and inventory are placed through programmatic channels.

AOL's bet is that 70 percent of ad buys will be done programmatically and automated.

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