Microsoft names new ad chief, reorganizes division

The hiring of Frank Holland comes a day after Yahoo rips the performance of Microsoft's adCenter technology.

Jay Greene Former Staff Writer
Jay Greene, a CNET senior writer, works from Seattle and focuses on investigations and analysis. He's a former Seattle bureau chief for BusinessWeek and author of the book "Design Is How It Works: How the Smartest Companies Turn Products into Icons" (Penguin/Portfolio).
Jay Greene
2 min read
Microsoft's Frank Holland Microsoft

Microsoft, which has had a bit of a turnstile at the top of its online advertising business, just replaced its top boss. The software giant today named Frank Holland to the job of corporate vice president in charge of Microsoft's global advertising sales business, the newly created Advertising and Online organization. Holland will report to Microsoft's chief operating officer, Kevin Turner.

Though the division is new, Holland is taking most of the responsibilities from Darren Huston, corporate vice president of the Consumer and Online organization. The other piece of Huston's job, the marketing of Microsoft itself, will fall to Chris Capossela, who was named senior vice president of the Consumer Channels and Central Marketing Group two weeks ago.

With Holland's hiring, Microsoft won't be filling the job Carolyn Everson vacated as corporate vice president of global ad sales and strategy when she left to run sales for Facebook. She'd been on the job at Microsoft for only nine months. Facebook hiring Everson led Microsoft to consider taking legal action to block the move, according to AllThingsD.

Holland has worked for Microsoft for 13 years, most recently as corporate vice president of Microsoft's worldwide operations. That job had little to do with ad sales. Instead, Holland led the company's agreement processing and invoicing, sales operations, and business planning groups, and was also responsible for the incentive compensation and training of the global sales force.

Holland has some heavy lifting ahead of him. Just yesterday, in Yahoo's quarterly earnings call, Chief Executive Carol Bartz blamed Microsoft's adCenter technology, the system for buying and delivering online ads, for failing to generate revenue the company expected for its alliance with Microsoft. "adCenter isn't yet producing the (revenue per search) we hoped for and are confident is possible," Bartz said.

For its part, Microsoft took the fall. It acknowledged that adCenter isn't delivering the amount of revenue to Yahoo that the companies expected. One problem: the bidding system isn't generating high enough yields on ad words.

"We remain confident about the benefits of our combined search marketplace, and we are working very closely with Yahoo on an aggressive road map to improve (revenue per search) through better monetization, relevance, and advertiser-facing tools," David Pann, general manager for the Search Network at Microsoft, said in a statement.

That said, Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan dove deep into the Yahoo news and found that Microsoft wasn't entirely to blame. Yahoo's ad business had been plummeting before it began using Microsoft adCenter six months ago. And Sullivan wrote that "neither of the last two quarters have shown any growth for reasons that have nothing to do with Yahoo's outsourcing payments to Microsoft."