Microsoft Loses Global Ad Sales Boss Darren Huston

huston-webMicrosoft’s previous global ad sales and consumer marketing chief, Darren Huston, is leaving the company to take the top job at hotel reservations site Booking.com. 

From 2008 until April 2011, Huston, 45, had responsibility for global sales of Microsoft’s display and search ads. He has also led marketing for many of its consumer products – including MSN, Bing, Windows, and Windows phone.

In April Huston gave up ad sales oversight, which was taken over by Frank Holland. Holland is now head of global sales for Microsoft’s advertising-driven businesses, reporting to Microsoft COO Kevin Turner.

Huston’s success in the dual role has been mixed, at least here in the U.S. While Bing’s launch campaign and early growth were celebrated as a valiant challenge to dominant Google, its market share now appears stuck at about 15 percent (30 percent when you factor in its Yahoo relationship) to Google’s persistent 65 percent. And Huston’s division made few major strides in marketing the Windows phone OS and MSN-related properties.

From the perspective of display ads, Microsoft maintained its standing on Huston’s watch as a high-volume seller of both premium and remnant ad inventory. But the company has struggled to hang on to its senior sales leaders in the all-important U.S. market. Back in February, previous national sales VP Carolyn Everson fled for Facebook after just eighth months on the job. An earlier sales and marketing chief, Robin Domeniconi, lasted less than two years.

The current head of U.S. sales and marketing, Keith Lorizio, was appointed in summer 2010 

At Booking.com, Huston will oversee a company that handles reservations for 165,000 hotels in 43 languages. The site is owned by The Priceline Group, which also operates Priceline.com, Agoda.com, and TravelJigsaw. Booking.com’s previous CEO, Kees Koolen, will transition to chairman of the company.

Correction: Story has been updated to note Huston transitioned out of ad sales in April. 

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