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Orbitz names Orton CMO, citing CRM experience

Online travel company Orbitz Worldwide hired Chris Orton, former senior director of Internet marketing at eBay, as its CMO July 6. His appointment is effective immediately.

Orton is overseeing Orbitz’s marketing divisions – online, offline, CRM and e-mail – with the vice presidents of each unit reporting directly to him. Orton reports to Barney Harford, president and CEO of Orbitz.

While at eBay, Orton, 37, was responsible for the company’s paid search, shopping comparison, search engine optimization, affiliates and display marketing channels. He also led an initiative to make eBay’s Internet marketing services available to third-party clients, said Brian Hoyt, VP of corporate communications and government affairs at Orbitz.

“I think what Barney found so interesting about Chris is that they’re sort of peers; they’re both disciples of data, and [they] understand what the data [reveals] about how your customers are interacting with your site, and how it can help you in your marketing efforts,” he said.

Orton’s appointment was unconventional, Hoyt added, because it strayed from the practice of hiring CMOs with backgrounds grounded in brand marketing.

“We already like to think we’ve been pretty sophisticated in our online and offline marketing initiatives as a company,” Hoyt said. “Chris is going to come in and, we think, take it to a whole other level.”

Orton replaced Jeff Davidoff, who left Orbitz about a year ago to cofound the company CMO to Go. Orbitz used an outside recruiting firm in its search to replace Davidoff, Hoyt said.

“We obviously took our time to find the right person because we had, I think, strong people in each of those (vice president) roles that he’ll be managing,” Hoyt said.

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