Greg Johnson

Exec VP-Global Director, Interpublic's Emerging Media Lab

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Interpublic cut the ribbon on its Emerging Media Lab with a splashy Los Angeles party in February that brought out top talent from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. The soiree was the first public glimpse at an array of future-leaning electronics-think an e-mail-capable refrigerator-but it was also a sort of coming out for Greg Johnson, exec VP-global director.
Greg Johnson, Exec VP-Global Director, Interpublic's Emerging Media Lab
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A former executive at Digitas, Mr. Johnson was well-known in the digital space and less so in the broader media world. He joined the Interpublic fold in 2005 as global director-innovation for McCann Worldgroup's MRM, and soon was tapped to develop the lab, designed to be a safe haven where marketers can noodle with new technology. The lab also is important for Interpublic Group of Cos. as it makes over its media buying and planning offerings.

"Greg has been a driving force in the lab's development," says Interpublic Chairman-CEO Michael Roth in an e-mail. "He is passionate about the changing media world and the power of technology to revolutionize marketing communications."

Mr. Johnson, 44, says areas he's eyeing are the intersection of social networking, user-generated content and broadband video; mobile marketing; and gaming-all hot topics in the business press.

"Part of the job of the lab is, to some degree, to debunk the hype," he says. "It's also about finding a methodical approach to trying things. So it's not about seeing a story in BusinessWeek and then just doing something." The lab has hired specialists in user-generated content and in mobile marketing.

He said Web 2.0-the highly contentious notion of a second-generation of internet protocol that's more two-way-is an often misunderstood concept. "Most marketers think of their assets as the creative thing they've built, like video content or a website," he says. "My thing is to think of functionality, essentially code, as a marketing asset. It helps build brand, engage customer, interact. It's not a separate thing; it's not just technology in the background. Functionality is really important and you can see that when you look at some of the mash-ups that can be done with Google Maps. That's an area that's still underleveraged."

* Making functionality a critical marketing asset

* Building team of mobile and user-generated content
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