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Yahoo fills sales void

The Web portal appoints Wenda Harris Millard to fill its long-vacant position as head of advertising sales.

Web portal Yahoo on Tuesday appointed Wenda Harris Millard to fill its long-vacant position as head of advertising sales.

Millard joins Yahoo after its former ad sales chief, Anil Singh, in March announced his intention to leave. Since then, the company has undergone a broad search, interviewing people from traditional media companies and some candidates within, according to people familiar with the process. Candidates included executives from cable and TV networks.

In her new position, Millard will spearhead Yahoo's sales efforts throughout North America. Millard will report to Gregory Coleman, Yahoo's executive vice president of North American operations, who until now handled ad sales responsibilities.

John Corcoran, an equity analyst at CIBC World Markets, said Millard's appointment is a step in the right direction as Yahoo attempts to counter an ongoing slowdown in advertising sales. But Corcoran also cautioned that Millard will have her work cut out for her. Yahoo faces heightened competitive pressure from media giants such as AOL Time Warner, which can offer advertising packages that span many mediums.

"It looks like she has the right background, but remember this is a tough market," Corcoran said. "It's going to take outstanding work to ensure Yahoo will get its fair share of business out there."

Before joining Yahoo, Millard served as chief Internet officer at publishing company Ziff-Davis Media and president of now defunct Ziff-Davis Internet. Millard left Ziff-Davis shortly after its former chief executive, James Dunning, was ousted by its board of directors.

Prior to Ziff-Davis, Millard was executive vice president and one of the founding members of Internet advertising company DoubleClick.

In addition to hiring Millard, Yahoo reshuffled its regional sales directors by appointing Jon Schwartz to head western U.S. efforts and Charles Thomas to cover the central region, joining John Glascott as head of the eastern region.

Yahoo also promoted Tim Sanders to chief solutions officer, a position that will focus on branding, customer acquisition and relationship building with partners.

The company will report quarterly earnings Wednesday.