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Refinery29 has hired a Facebook exec to help it compete against Facebook

Sarah Personette, a former VP of marketing, will be the digital publisher’s new COO.

Sarah Personette, Head of Global Business Marketing at                         Facebook.
Sarah Personette
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Digital media companies are in a tough fight for ad dollars with Google and Facebook. Will hiring a Facebook exec help?

Refinery29 is going to find out. The online publisher that targets millennial women has hired Sarah Personette, a top Facebook marketing executive, to be its chief operating officer.

At Facebook, Personette was vice president of global marketing, which means she ran a 500-person group that pushed Facebook’s ad products to current and potential clients. At Refinery29, her main focus will be on the company’s sales and marketing efforts.

Her hire comes a few months after an org-chart shuffle at Refinery29 that saw the departure of its chief financial officer, chief revenue office and head of marketing.

Like several big digital publishers, Refinery29 has raised a lot of money and has a big audience — it says it reaches 550 million people worldwide, once you factor in eyeballs it finds on platforms like Facebook.

And like other big digital publishers, Refinery29 will have to work increasingly hard if it wants its ad growth to continue. You can pick your stat, but by any measure, Facebook and Google dominate the digital ad market and are getting bigger, which makes it harder for everyone else.

No problem, says Personette, who says Facebook needs publishers like the one she’s going to work for: “I see it as a very symbiotic relationship, and one that’s very powerful for the future.”

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