Media Mavens

Meet Ad Age's 2014 Media Mavens

These 23 Media Creators, Sellers and Innovators Are Taking on Key Challenges and Reinventing Ways of Doing Business

Published on .

A majority stake in Fullscreen, a top multi-channel network on YouTube, sells for $200 million to $300 million. Minority stakes in Vice value the hipster media empire and ad agency at $2.5 billion. Amazon pays almost $1 billion for Twitch, an ad-supported video-game-streaming service that most media executives hadn't heard of before August.

What kind of media business is this? And what is it turning into? These are the people who can tell you, because they are making its future.

Kirsten Atkinson,
live advertiser at Team One

Kirsten Atkinson doesn't just buy 30-second commercial spots. As media director at Team One, where she oversees the Lexus account, Ms. Atkinson is focused on being at the forefront of the advertising evolution.

"What keeps me here is the push to be innovative," Ms. Atkinson said. "I like being able to push forward rather than be reactive."

In this way, she's been a leader in adopting new platforms and screens to engage consumers in interesting ways for the automaker.

During New York Fashion Week this fall, Lexus partnered with emerging designer Gareth Pugh for Lexus Design Disrupt, an installment featuring fashion, music, dance, art and technology. Lexus also aired a series of live ads during NBC's "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon" last year, capitalizing on social media to allow viewers to interact in real time.

In her 14-year career, Ms. Atkinson has held media-buying roles at Starcom, Deutsch and Mindshare, where she handled accounts like Procter & Gamble, Miller Brewing Co. and Nissan.


What is your must-have media right now? NBC's "Blacklist." I'm looking forward to the new season.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? Don Draper—I'm going to miss "Mad Men."

What will be bigger in 2015, smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Watching TV via the web is big now. In five years, smartwatches will be the craze.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? Jimmy Fallon is always a great comedic relief after a long day of work.

Spencer Baim,
making virtue from Vice

Vice is certainly having (yet another) moment. The rapidly growing media company is impressing audiences with its ambitious reports -- including a bold video series on the terrorist group ISIS -- while fetching a valuation north of $2.5 billion. Spencer Baim, chief strategic officer at Vice, said the company's business side is on a similarly lucrative path.

"We're getting calls from the Unilevers and P&Gs of the world," he said. "I always knew it would be the last bastion to have them work closely with us, but young people brush their teeth, or at least they should."

Mr. Baim founded Virtue, the creative agency within Vice that works with brands to create marketing campaigns aimed at Vice's young demographic. Despite all the hoopla about Vice's editorial content, Virtue accounts for the bulk of Vice's revenue. As Vice grows—it just nabbed two investments worth $500 million, building on News Corp.'s $70 million investment last year—Mr. Baim is confident Virtue will prosper too. "Every CMO seems to be open to us," he added.


What is your must-have media right now? Anything on demand. I love Netflix, HBO GO, etc. Just finished "Orange Is the New Black."

Who is your favorite media celebrity? David Carr. I read his column religiously.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? Ricky Gervais -- he makes me giggle.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? I'd love to run MoMA.

Christene Barberich,
refining lifestyle at Refinery29

Fashion site Refinery29 has its eye on everything from shopping to fitness to travel -- much like its editor-in-chief and co-founder, Christene Barberich, who's always on the lookout for new content areas to explore.

"This is going to be a big moment for us," she said, "developing new projects and partnering with some extraordinary new talent."

Ms. Barberich said building a team that really connects with people is crucial. In this vein, the site opened up its Instagram feed to its entire staff to push out fresh, diverse content for its more than 430,000 followers.

"There is a real understanding and genuine passion that is palpable in the way we create a specific experience," said Ms. Barberich. "That's infinitely gratifying, not to mention motivating."


What is your must-have media right now? It's kind of all over the place. "The Killing," "Top of the Lake," "Parks & Recreation," "The Bletchley Circle" and "Sherlock" have all been on heavy rotation recently. I was definitely in the camp of people who really loved "Boyhood" … I mean love. And I'll never say no to Jimmy Kimmel's Mean Tweets series -- it puts everything in perspective.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? Both Jimmys -- Fallon and Kimmel, Amy Schumer, Jenny Slate, and Harper's Bazaar's Laura Brown on Instagram, who reminds me at the most opportune moments that fashion really can be fun.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? TV on the web. It may not have the same sexiness as smart watches right now, but come 2015, I'm curious to see what emerges. Wearables still need some practical innovation and a more diverse range of truly fashion-forward options to make an impact that's felt everywhere. TV on the web, on the other hand, is already everywhere.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? On Instagram: For style and fashion stuff it's ZanZanMan, Mother of Pearl, Coast to Coast Vintage, Rodarte, Opening Ceremony, Clare Vivier, Loeffler Randall, and Tome NYC. For arty design inspiration and nostalgia, it's IdeaBooksLtd, BrightLyons, Beyond the Mag, and Scandinavian Homes. For just everyday funny stuff, it's Lena Dunham and Thatjcrewginghamshirt.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Cleaning other people's closets, hunting down amazing vintage clothing and furniture, running an animal shelter, teaching… Hopefully, all of the above.

Andy Blau,
bringing ad tech to Time Inc.

Print ad revenue at Time Inc., the nation's largest magazine publisher, is on the decline, but digital ad sales rose 12% in the most recent quarter. The increase was driven by a perhaps-unlikely source: programmatic ad-selling technology, the same process that some publishers have blamed for undermining prices for their online ads.

Andy Blau, senior VP and group GM of ad sales at Time Inc., oversees this bright spot, which he says has delivered new clients without hurting pricing.

His current stint marks Mr. Blau's second tour of duty with Time Inc. His first one lasted 26 years before he left during the brief tenure of CEO Jack Griffin. Mr. Blau returned in 2013.

"I always loved Time Inc.'s brands and my colleagues," he said. "When they asked me to return specifically to focus on ways to accelerate Time Inc.'s digital ad revenues it was an obvious choice for me."

His next targets of exploration are mobile and video. "Those two areas will be where the most exciting developments will occur and where the advertising demand is greatest," he said.


What is your must-have media right now? My children and I share a love of cooking and when we need inspiration we go to Food & Wine, which never ceases to tantalize our imagination, and more importantly, our taste buds. Mom is the lucky recipient of all that food inspiration.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? By all measures, John Oliver is the funniest and most clever person on TV right now. When the world seems to be falling apart somehow he can get you to simply laugh at all of it.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? No doubt, TV via the web will have its day in 2015. And in 2016 you'll be watching it on your smartwatch and wondering why you just bought that iPhone 6 Plus, which doesn't fit in your pocket.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? Definitely YnetNews. I'm a Middle East politics junky and this English-language news source from Israel is the best source for information in a very confusing part of the world.

Gonzalo del Fa,
making the case at GroupM Multicultural

Marketers often don't really know how much of their revenue comes from Hispanics, or even if they're putting their multicultural dollars behind the right brands in their portfolio. Gonzalo del Fa, president, GroupM Multicultural, can tell them. Wildly enthusiastic about numbers and data, he has set up a market-analytics team creating algorithms and building tools like Precision, a new way of analyzing data about multicultural consumers and their purchases and brand loyalties that he calls "the holy grail." It also leads to real evidence that Hispanics are driving growth in most categories—not surprising given well-known stats about 50 million Hispanics spending $1 trillion a year.

"We shifted to a business conversation," he said. "We need to discuss the business problem, not 'Should I do Hispanic?' And because we're having a business discussion, it's at a whole different level, and the CMO comes in."

Mr. del Fa, who is from Argentina, started GroupM's first Hispanic effort, at MEC. He became president for multicultural last year, and now oversees multicultural leads at Mindshare, MediaCom, MEC, Maxus and Red Fuse, in addition to scouting new business and innovating with new data tools. GroupM agencies' multicultural revenue will be up about 30% this year, due to clients activating more brands in Hispanic and business won from other media shops.


What is your must-have media right now? Netflix and "The Killing"—I like the idea of continuing shows.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? They're all fictional: Don Draper, Frank Underwood and The Killing's Steve Holder.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Drumming. I'd be on tour with my heavy metal band Spherea. If someone would pay me half what I earn at GroupM to do it, I'd be touring with Spherea.

Ricardo Dias,
driving experience at A-B InBev

Ricardo Dias knows the beer business from the ground up. He started selling suds in Brazil, where he went store to store trying to get brand placement for AmBev, which would later become part of the global beer behemoth known today as Anheuser-Busch InBev. He took the role as A-B InBev's global VP-consumer connections seven months ago after working several years in procurement. The new job gives him oversight of media, digital and experiential programs for the world's largest brewer.

On the tech front, Mr. Dias oversees the brewer's digital and social innovation studio in Palo Alto, Calif.—nicknamed the "Beer Garage." World Cup attendees in Brazil saw his experiential work at the Budweiser Hotel effort, where the brand hosted exclusive events, concerts and parties.

"24 money will be spent in experiential platforms," Mr. Dias said. "With the rise of nontraditional media, a lot of these experiences can be replicated more effectively through the digital landscape."


What is your must-have media right now? All of the Vice channels for engaging, relevant and beautifully produced content.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? People making great content on YouTube.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? Anything Hyperlapse(d).

Michael Engleman,
shark whisperer at Syfy

The engineer of the promotional push for Syfy's "Sharknado 2," Michael Engleman, built a publicity whirlwind this summer by thinking about the consumers first. The push captured fans through digital, social and promotional partnerships, including a massive Subway integration; teaming with Random House for the book "How to Survive a Sharknado and Other Natural Disasters"; and an app that let consumers insert themselves into shark-attack backdrops.

"Our strategy for 'Sharknado 2' was really to put the fan at the center of the conversation and give them the platform and tools to immerse themselves as deeply as they chose to," said Mr. Engleman, 43, Syfy and Chiller's exec VP-marketing, digital and global brand strategy. The goal was "to make them evangelists for the second film."

It worked. Syfy brought in 3.9 million viewers for the sequel's first showing, up from 1.4 million for the original—making it one of the network's most-watched original films.

Mr. Engleman touches a little bit of everything at Syfy and Chiller, like the various new properties that are in the works, including "Ascension," an upcoming space-thriller series, and, of course, "Sharknado 3."

He's also experimenting with Twitter sentiment to help craft content, marketing, messaging and programming.


What is your must-have media right now? I am up to my eyeballs in media right now. I'm sort of obsessed with Anthony Bourdain on CNN. "Boyhood" is still blowing my mind. "Veep" and "Inside Amy Schumer" are my comedy fixes these days.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? I'm super-excited about Tricia Helfer coming back to Syfy, and I'm absolutely amazed by the entirety of the cast of "Orange Is the New Black."

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? As much as I absolutely adore smartwatches, I think TV via the web has a hell of a moving start.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? I'm not just saying this in the spirit of marital bliss, but my wife, Jessi, is quite brilliant and funny on Twitter.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? My creative outlet is cooking. I would be doing it badly, but I would cook professionally.

Ze Frank,
making moving pictures for BuzzFeed

You might know the voice of Ze Frank, president of BuzzFeed Motion Pictures, the viral publisher's L.A.-based division for creating video content.

Motion Pictures -- "not a code name for TV or movies," Mr. Frank said, but a literal reference to "moving images" -- is a key part of the growth strategy at BuzzFeed, which is now valued at about $850 million. And Mr. Frank oversees all that video content.

But back to his voice: It provides the narration for BuzzFeed's "Sad Cat Diaries" video, which has more than 17 million YouTube views, as well as the "Dear Kitten" video, a piece of branded content for Friskies cat food that BuzzFeed produced. It's nearly as funny as "Sad Cat Diaries" and has nearly as many YouTube views.

"The big goal on the branded content side is to be very clear that the content is coming from a brand's voice, but raising the level of expectations that consumers have about the quality of the content," he said. "It's a big challenge, but it's a great challenge because it raises the bar overall."


What is your must-have media right now? It's a toss-up between BBC's "Sherlock" and the web show "High Maintenance."

Who is your favorite media celebrity? Steve Coogan

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Having never worn a watch, I have to go with my wrist and say TV via the web.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? #foodporn, OK not really a follow, but it's a fun way to get inspired to cook.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Cooking. And possibly making cheese.

Todd Gordon,
testing ad tech at Magna Global

As quickly as we automate the way we buy and sell digital advertising, tradition and technical challenges are staving off the machines in areas like TV.

But ad tech will inexorably reach beyond your standard web ads, aided by the efforts of Todd Gordon, exec VP-U.S. director at the media agency Magna Global.

He's already set in motion nonconventional partnerships, such as a programmatic test the media agency conducted with ABC and a media consortium meant to catapult the automation of media planning and buying to areas beyond just display advertising.

"A big change for me was probably mid-2013 and has continued over this year as we've taken the benefits of automation and programmatic which were mostly focused on digital display," he said. "We take that philosophy to everything we do. Magna and I have growth along with that wave."


What is your must-have media right now? I'm in the middle of season four of "The Wire." It's too good to binge-watch so I'm taking my time.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Well, I haven't worn a watch in many years but I'm finding myself daydreaming about the Apple Watch.

Adam Harter,
marrying Pepsi and pop

Fourteen-year PepsiCo veteran Adam Harter oversees the soda giant's U.S. sports sponsorships, as well as culture, music and media-strategy teams, seeking out "those unique intersections between sports, media and entertainment" that can fuel Pepsi marketing, he said. The biggest example is Pepsi's Super Bowl halftime show sponsorship, which resumed in 2013 after a five-year hiatus. But the strategy is also applied at smaller programs, like the "Bioreactive" concert that Pepsi sponsored at South by Southwest this year. Attendees wore wristbands that monitored movements and heart rates and synched up to social-media accounts, with especially active dancers publicized on large LED projections.

The events align with Pepsi's broader "Live for Now" platform, which is designed to put the brand at the forefront of global pop culture. "We try to find media partners that will build unique integrations for us," and music and sports partners that let Pepsi reach fans in a way that tells the "Live for Now" story, said Mr. Harter, VP-marketing, consumer engagement, Pepsi Beverages 22 America.

What is your must-have media right now? Any Marvel movie, and at this point I can't survive without YouTube for short-form content like "Honest Trailers" and "Epic Rap Battles of History" for a quick laugh with my son.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? I find multi-dimensional celebrities fascinating … people like Bruno Mars who can write, put on a killer Super Bowl halftime show performance and can also have you in stitches like he did on "SNL."

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? I think smartwatches still have a long way to go until they're convenient enough to be indispensable.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? Amy Schumer and Anna Kendrick are hilarious on Twitter, but my daughters almost have me convinced that YouTube's Tyler Oakley is one of the biggest stars on the planet right now.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? I'd probably be forced into helping my wife get her pit-bull rescue dream off the ground, without pay I'm sure.

Steve Hasker,
taking the measure of media at Nielsen

Steve Hasker has arguably the most important job in media, even if he's not a rock-star name.

As global president at Nielsen, he's pushing Earth's biggest market-research firm both to expand geographically and improve the ways it measures media audiences and returns on ad investment. As Nielsen added the near-monopoly Arbitron radio-measurement service to its near-monopoly TV ratings service last fall, those responsibilities got bigger.

Mr. Hasker -- a CPA, former track athlete in Australia and McKinsey media tech and telecom consultant -- was recruited into Nielsen over four years ago to lead the charge on making the disparate parts of the company work together. He's helped add Online Campaign Ratings, the equivalent of TV gross ratings points for digital, as well as the capability to match people's spending by credit cards and even checks with their media consumption.

While Nielsen still has its critics, Mr. Hasker said: "I'm increasingly bullish about our progress in video." Among other things, Online Campaign Ratings will help Nielsen include mobile audiences in TV ratings starting this fall.


What is your must-have media right now? "True Detective," "Ray Donovan," live tennis on TV and time-shifted rugby from the Southern Hemisphere. And as many newspapers every day as I can get my hands on from different parts of the world, in print or on iPad, and radio and streaming audio.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Watching TV via the web.

Cindy Holland,
Netflix programmer

As fans of "House of Cards" would probably agree, no small part of the credit for Netflix's recent banner years owes to the person in charge of its new series: Cindy Holland, VP-original content. Most recently, Netflix passed the 50 million global user mark following the return of prison dramedy "Orange Is the New Black"—just one of the shows she has acquired.

Ms. Holland, a 12-year Netflix veteran, has also helped bring Kevin Spacey's calculating "House of Cards" character Frank Underwood and Ricky Gervais' endearing "Derek" to web-connected screens. With her green light, "Arrested Development" was revived online seven years after Fox canceled it. And she granted a more recent AMC cancellation its swan song: "The Killing" released its final season on Aug. 1.

Now Ms. Holland has approved two seasons of "Love," a Judd Apatow comedy, echoing the big two-season bet Netflix made on "Cards." "Love" arrives in 2016, the same year Ms. Holland will lead Netflix into talk shows with the help of former E! Network host Chelsea Handler.


Ashley Kaplan,
defining premium at Fullscreen

However popular online video networks like Fullscreen have become -- and Fullscreen is one of the biggest on YouTube, which means it is mega-popular -- they are also trying to broaden beyond the webcam aesthetic to include more "premium" video.

They just need to decide what that means. While many interpret "premium" to mean "TV-like," Fullscreen Head of Content Ashley Kaplan has found that young audiences may put their premium on more access to their favorite YouTube celebrities. That could mean exclusive, behind-the-scenes videos, livestream chats or fan meet-ups.

"It doesn't matter the platforms, the production quality, the length," Ms. Kaplan said. "It's all very agnostic."

But Ms. Kaplan also has the TV chops to synthesize audience desires with the polish that might better lure major brand advertisers. Before joining Fullscreen last December, Ms. Kaplan served as VP-digital content and strategy at the production company Magical Elves, which makes shows including "Top Chef," and she oversaw the digital spin-off series "Last Chance Kitchen."

"Some of the traditional professional production best practices didn't exist in this space before," Ms. Kaplan said. "That was one of the first things I brought to Fullscreen."


What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? I think we'll be watching TV on our smartwatches.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? National Geographic on Instagram.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Well, I love my job and wouldn't want to work in any other field. However, if I found myself in the flexible position of not needing to work, I'd apply what I've learned in this business to illustrate issues and stories worth sharing. Basically, I'd make documentaries ... to be distributed on smartwatches.

Kay Madati,
digitizing BET

When everyone else in social media was thinking about driving in-the-moment buzz around TV shows, Kay Madati was focused on developing social strategies that engaged viewers even when their favorite show wasn't airing.

Up until a few weeks ago, Mr. Madati was charged with leading Facebook's partnerships with film studios, TV networks and entertainment companies as head of entertainment and media at the social-media company. Now he's going in-house to lead BET Networks' digital, social and mobile strategy as exec VP-chief digital officer.

His goal is to turn BET from a traditional media company into one that can be accessed from any platform or device.

He says social is a year-round commitment. "There's a lot of real-time activity on social networks, but when you take a step back, what really matters is you need to keep viewers engaged week to week, season to season," he said.

Prior to Facebook, Mr. Madati was VP-audience experience at is Worldwide, where during the 2008 presidential election he helped integrate social media into the cable news network's daily programming and give viewers access to coverage across devices.


What is your must-have media right now? I watch too much TV -- everything from Netflix's "House of Cards" to FX's "Sons of Anarchy" to "The Game" on BET and "Scandal" on ABC and "Blacklist" on NBC.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? Bethany Mota and other people like her fascinate me. I am amazed by how they come out of nowhere and what makes them into celebrities. Even though I am not her demo audience, I look at her to understand how we can build superstars on TV.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? I was an early subscriber to Lauren Zalznick's [former NBC Universal executive] newsletter; Benedict Evans' tech newsletter and Jason Hirschorn's [former co-president of MySpace] MediaReDEFined.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? I come from a family of military people, so I'd like to think I'd be service in some way. My passion outside of work is schools and education. I've opened two schools—one in Brooklyn, N.Y., and one it Atlanta—so I would probably teach.

John Oliver,
slaying late-night

Just when you thought there wasn't a way to innovate in late-night TV, John Oliver shakes up the entire format. On his "Last Week Tonight" on HBO there are no guests and rarely a musical performance or stunt. Instead, Mr. Oliver is able to do something that has been nearly lost from TV -- hold viewers' attention during monologues that can span up to 20 minutes.

Mr. Oliver's deep-dives into everything from FIFA to for-profit colleges consistently generate buzz, with his report on net neutrality blamed for crashing the Federal Communication Commission's website. Mr. Oliver even took on native advertising and its champions in the media, including BuzzFeed CEO Jonah Peretti, Time Inc. CEO Joe Ripp and Meredith Kopit Levien, exec VP-advertising at The New York Times.

His rants are getting a second life online, which is saying something for a medium where brevity and "The Sneezing Baby Panda" are more characteristic.

And Mr. Oliver not only pokes fun at the week's topic, but promotes taking action. It's a sort of investigative journalism, or at least instigational journalism, seen less frequently these days, even on traditional news programs, and surely not on the typical late-night comedy show.


What is your must-have media right now? First, if I ever use the phrase "must-have media" in conversation, you have permission to slap me across the face. In terms of things that I love, and in no particular order, "Frontline" is consistently fantastic; "SportsCenter" is always an effective emotional anesthetic, and I like to listen to a bunch of different podcasts walking to and from work every day.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? I think Tim Gunn from "Project Runway" is one of the most likeable people in any medium. I'm also a big fan of any skateboarder on YouTube who has been on the receiving end of a spectacular nut-shot.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? If it's smartwatches, I'm heading for the nearest cliff.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? ProPublica always has some interesting stuff, and Colin Quinn has turned infuriating people on Twitter into an art form.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Probably just "trying" to do this job. I honestly don't know what I'd be doing, but I can safely say that I'd be doing it terribly. I don't have much in the way of transferable skills.

Michelle Phan,

Michelle Phan was a freshman design student at the Ringling College of Art and Design when she posted her first video makeup tutorial on YouTube in 2007. It got 40,000 views in a week.

By 2009, YouTube had approached her about joining its partner program, and after videos on "How to Get Lady Gaga's Eyes" brought her over a million subscribers, L'Oréal's Lancôme approached her about becoming the brand's official video artist. She quit school after her junior year.

Senior year was to be devoted to a capstone project, which was going to be creating her own makeup line. By 2013, she'd done that anyway, with Em by Michelle Phan through L'Oréal (and Ringling gave her a well-earned honorary degree).

She now has a YouTube channel with nearly 7 million subscribers, has starred in a Dr. Pepper commercial, started the multi-channel FAWN (For All Women Network) and is publishing a book in October.

But she's not giving up on makeup tutorials, which have become a genre dominated by bloggers like her rather than brands.

"Normal people, customers, just connect more to a person than a brand," Ms. Phan said. "A brand is a brand. You get great products, but you don't really connect to a brand. A lot of beauty brands are trying to crack the code, but I'll be honest, it's not a code you're supposed to crack. You have to go with the flow and let people like myself champion your brand and use the products in a more genuine and authentic way."


What is your must-have media right now? Victorious (the app that connects "creators with their communities"), Netflix.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? I love Richard Branson as an entrepreneur and how he's always pushing himself and always at the forefront of innovation. I also love Lucy Liu. I met her the other night and she's on Instagram and I'm following her there.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Watching TV on the web.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? @Fatjewish on Instagram. He cracks me up all the time.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Anything that involves me being creative. I went to school to become a children's book illustrator. And I'm not doing that but I am educating millions of girls on how to illustrate on their faces and tell and share their stories.

Bob Rupczynski,
drilling down at Kraft

Bob Rupczynski, VP of media and consumer engagement at Kraft Foods Group, is instilling a data-driven media culture at a major traditional marketer. Kraft's brands, which include Oscar Mayer, Jell-O, and Planters, are already in 98% of households. Mr. Rupczynski's mission is to make better use of its powerful reach, including the consumer data the company collects through its core digital publishing vehicle,, which gets 100 million visits a year, he said.

"We are truly able to get a view and vantage point into consumers' lives that is unparalleled within this industry," he said. The company uses information that visitors to the site volunteer to craft personal marketing messages, such as emails. Internally, Mr. Rupczynski, who holds a degree in math and computer science, has restructured the media team, "creating data-driven roles that didn't exist before," he said.


What is your must-have media right now? "House of Cards."

Who is your favorite media celebrity? Terence Kawaja, Luma partners.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? TV on the web.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? @Humzadeas, on Instagram.

Anthony Rushton,
Telemetry fraud warrior

CEO Anthony Rushton is taking the fight to ad fraud, not only using his company's technology to uncover fraud, as other companies do, but actively naming those behind the operations. "We can see it, prove it, and love to publish our work," Mr. Rushton said. While many refuse to release their findings, Telemetry makes a point of it. In the past months, the company helped Ad Age publish stories on those behind ad injection, bot networks and other scams which have cost advertisers millions of dollars.

In one such scenario, Telemetry uncovered a fraud operation run by two men in Florida in which they listed a network of dummy sites with an ad network, and then flooded them with bot traffic.

As Telemetry grows, Mr. Rushton expects the added volume of impressions it monitors to give the company even more visibility into the problem. "No one is safe," he said. "The bigger the ad network, exchange, agency, advertiser or publisher, the more we are inclined to investigate and publish."


If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Trying to take down the banking system.

What is your must-have media right now? -- It's in early beta right now but hugely addictive. It's a random, social, internet-based TV station.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? Marc Fonzetti at Verizon.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? I only ever follow friends so it has to be "my friends" really.

Emmett Shear,
streaming surprise at Twitch

People used to laugh at the idea of Twitch. After all, the online video service's core programming is people live-streaming themselves playing video games. (Cue the jokes about middle-aged men in their parents' basements.)

Then Amazon agreed to buy the company for $970 million in cash, and, well, people started to see Twitch a bit differently.

"It's just like TV," said Twitch CEO Emmett Shear, who described Twitch as "like a satellite [TV] company." The average viewer watches more than 100 minutes of video on each day and those live streams are interspersed with TV-like ads. "It's the same kind of quality of content and access to this demographic that isn't watching TV that much anymore."

As one of the few companies to prove that live video can find an audience online, Twitch has an opportunity to bring live TV ad dollars online as well, especially if it ever opts to expand beyond game-related programming. But for the moment, Twitch and its new parent don't have any plans to use Twitch's technology to build a live-video business at Amazon beyond Twitch, said Mr. Shear. However, "it's not a bad idea. I truly think our technology has applications outside of what we do."


What is your must-have media right now? I can't live without my Kindle books. I read on my phone, though.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? Day9 on Twitch.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Watching TV via the web. It's still very early days for smartwatches; the TV-to-digital transformation is in full swing.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? /r/oddlysatisfying on Reddit. Unsurprisingly, it's oddly satisfying.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? I'd still be working with new technology, trying to build things that matter. Endlessly satisfying.

Jonathan Schaaf,
shaping digital at Omnicom

Jonathan Schaaf's fingerprints will be on the business models for Instagram, Maker Studios and Twitter. As Omnicom Media Group's president of U.S. digital investments, this year alone Mr. Schaaf has orchestrated deals with each of those companies that give the agency group and its clients early access to ad products and influence in their development.

These deals, which position OMG as the ad-supported companies' kitchen cabinet, are as much about transforming the digital-ad industry as keeping Omnicom's competitive edge. "We want to get in early and help develop their ad models so that it's not only going to be long-term beneficial for them, but for our clients from a media-trading-value perspective with rates that keep us more than competitive in the marketplace," he said.

Mr. Schaaf has a team dedicated to emerging media tasked with keeping its ears to the ground and identifying the next potential deals. Whether pacts with Pinterest, Snapchat or Amazon's Twitch are in the offing, Mr. Schaaf won't say. "I'm not going to rattle off a list of people we have our eye on, because I want to maintain that as a competitive advantage."


What is your must-have media right now? "Ray Donovan," all sorts of books on iPad, "Caddyshack."

Who is your favorite media celebrity? At risk of sounding like a teenage girl, I have to go with Justin Timberlake. The guy is a triple threat, and a scratch golfer. Respect.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Critical mass of wearables just isn't there yet, but it will be.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? TheFatJewish on Instagram ... guy is just plain funny.

Zhu Wei,
charting China's media

China-based Miaozhen Systems' client list looks like a "who's who" of the country's major ad spenders, from Procter & Gamble and L'Oréal to Coca-Cola and Mars.

The third-party ad-tech company helps brands get the most out of their spending by measuring ad effectiveness across screens -- TV, computer, mobile phone -- on a mass scale, tracking hundreds of thousands of households.

It also has interesting side projects. Last year, it drew attention to bots in China, calculating that non-human traffic caused advertisers to lose $1.6 billion from July 2012 to June 2013.

Former McCann staffer Zhu Wei became CEO in 2008. Under his watch, Miaozhen has grown to more than 300 employees and expanded beyond its Beijing base to Japan, Indonesia and Southeast Asia.

Last year, Miaozhen raised $10 million in funding, led by Beijing-based private equity company CBC; other investors include WPP Digital. That money boosted its capacity to measure mobile -- crucial in a country with an internet population of 632 million, of which 527 million use mobile devices to go online.


What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? Watching TV via the web.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? Tech investor Suning Tian, founder of CBC.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Being a dentist.

Lisa Weinstein,
forging social pacts at SMG

As president of global digital, data and analytics at Starcom MediaVest Group, Lisa Weinstein is largely responsible for leading the media agency network's 13 partnerships with companies such as Twitter, Facebook and Acxiom. But she and her team also recently went beyond their usual remit to support a larger deal between parent company Publicis Groupe and Facebook, meant to bring custom Facebook ad units and data to the whole span of media and digital shops within Publicis.

"We evolved how we leverage our clients' assets and investment in the market to gain new benefits," she said. Where price was once the sensible crux of a big deal, other opportunities have become important to consider as well.

"We're now doing those deals with product and engineering people in the room and data and analytics teams in the room," Ms. Weinstein said.

Ms. Weinstein might work across the agency divisions, but she also has experience running an agency operation thanks to an earlier stint as a global managing director at WPP's Mindshare. She's currently overseeing a growing group of about 30 staffers, with a growing influence on Starcom MediaVest Group as a whole.

"We have a small group of people but they impact an 8,000-person organization," she said.


Who is your favorite media celebrity? In news, I am a fan of Chuck Todd as I find him credible and a little entertaining. In sports, Peyton Manning is still my favorite celeb -- "Football on Your Phone" is still one of the best all-time, and I am from Indianapolis, so it will always have a place for him even if he's playing for Denver.

Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood,
marketing music for Beyoncè

Just weeks after joining Beyoncé's management company, Parkwood Entertainment, as its head of digital, Lauren Wirtzer-Seawood helped launch the artist's self-titled secret album, delivering 14 audio tracks, 17 videos and a new website all at once.

"We literally just watched the timeline, the instantaneous seconds and moments, that people realized that the album was available," Ms. Wirtzer-Seawood said, recalling December's album release. "Seeing this chatter happen and watching the internet explode -- it was an amazing moment."

Zynga was her last stop before arriving at Queen Bey's side. But Ms. Wirtzer-Seawood grew up in the music business, having worked at Def Jam in the 1990s, and said that joining Parkwood after years working in social gaming was like coming full circle.

These days, she's using Facebook video to promote the star's big events, like her 2014 VMA performance and September HBO special with Jay Z. "I'm always trying to find new platforms that we can use to distribute info and get a ton of traction," she said.


What is your must-have media right now? "American Ninja Warrior"—my kids are addicted. And when I do have the time, I try to catch up on "Scandal," which has been on my DVR since the first episode.

Who is your favorite media celebrity? There are so many, I can't possibly choose. I admire any celebrity that frequently reinvents themselves and takes untraditional routes and unexpected risks.

What will be bigger in 2015: smartwatches or watching TV via the web? It will take some time for the Apple Watch to penetrate the mass market, and since the internet has a much lower barrier to entry, and countless connected devices are available to global consumers, we'll see the trend of watching TV on the web continue to increase.

Who is your favorite follow in social media? BuzzFeed on Twitter, Origiful on Vine, Beyoncé on Instagram.

If you weren't doing this job, what would you be doing? Something boring and predictable. Like a lawyer.

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