Significantly, the new role will see Salama sacrificing his place on the WPP board at Christmas to oversee the division, which has revenues of around $1.4 billion.
Kantar brands include Millward Brown, Research International, Added Value, BMRB, Henley Centre and Management Ventures.
Mark Read, a former marketing consultant to NatWest, who has worked on acquisitions and business development at WPP for six years, is replacing Salama as WPP's director of strategy.
Alongside Read, whose role will cover the overall strategy of the group and cross-client co-operation, there will be a number of people taking cross-disciplinary roles.
Beth Axelrod continues to look after the management and talent development of the group, Peter Dart, the chairman of Enterprise IG, has a Unilever role, and Tempus' David Wheldon is believed to be taking a bigger Vodafone role.
During his eight-year tenure as the group's strategy director, 41-year-old Salama was responsible for developing and integrating client businesses, acquisitions and joint ventures. He was also credited with establishing a system of management development courses.
His role as the chief executive of WPP.com will also be taken on by Read.
Salama, who replaces David Jenkins as head of Kantar, is a former managing director of the Henley Centre. Before that he was a speechwriter to the Labour Party's Foreign Affairs team in the House of Commons.
- Newsmaker, p17.