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Marissa Mayer Trying to Poach Top Amazon Sales Exec to Help Turn Around the Turnaround at Yahoo

Amazon's Lisa Utzschneider is one of the CEO's top choices, but for what job?

Last week, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer bought herself some time with increasingly disgruntled investors by turning in a better than expected performance for the third quarter, with a small uptick in revenue rather than an expected decline. While still full of signs that Yahoo’s core business was still struggling, the results were good enough that Wall Street bid up the stock anyway.

But she has also been aggressively looking for some high-level help to turn around the turnaround that has not yet yielded the kinds of results that Mayer has promised. And among those she has been trying to entice, according to sources close to the situation, is Amazon’s head of global advertising sales Lisa Utzschneider. The well-regarded exec has been at the e-commerce giant for six years and, previous to that, she worked for a decade at Microsoft.

It’s not clear what job Utzschneider is being considered for, the one currently occupied by Americas head Ned Brody, or an even more significant one, such as COO. Of course, the person last in that position — former Google exec Henrique De Castro — was fired by Mayer and given a big payoff that was controversial given his inability to turn around Yahoo’s ever-declining ad business.

Brody’s status has been in question in the marketing industry for some time, with sources inside Yahoo describing his relationship with Mayer as tense. While Brody has denied this to some, the number of people inside the company who have told me about the increasing deterioration of his and Mayer’s rapport has been growing.

The Utzschneider hiring is an interesting move for Mayer, who has talked to a number of top ad sales execs recently, said numerous sources, to get them to come to Yahoo. Sources said she seems to have focused most intently on Utzschneider — who has a strong reputation in the ad market, but who is not one of the more high-profile execs in the space, such as Facebook’s Carolyn Everson or Twitter’s Adam Bain.

Still, her hire would be a coup for Mayer, who needs more help in figuring out how to goose and morph Yahoo’s display ad business. To do so, she has shifted the company’s focus to mobile and video ads, where Utzschneider has some experience. Reports have put Amazon’s ad business at $1 billion, with credit to Utzschneider.

More to come, obvi. I pinged both Yahoo and Utzschneider for comment and expect no reply.

[Update: More sources confirm that Utzschneider is likely to take the Yahoo job, which could be announced as early as this week.]

But here is an interview that Utzschneider did with AdAge during Advertising Week in New York earlier this month:

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