"These alumni are the first to actually chip away and transform
archaic business practices and begin to modernize the culture,
model and conversation," said Robin Steinberg, exec VP-and director
of publishing investment and activation at MediaVest. "And they're evolving and
restructuring what were once very conservative and traditional
Some have argued Forbes devalued its overall brand by allowing
brands and bloggers to publish under its banner. In the long run
that might hurt the value of the company, which is up for sale.
"We're doing what we think is the right thing to do for our
audience," Mr. D'Vorkin said in an earlier Ad Age interview.
Mr. Gentzel, who helped Mr. D'Vorkin develop and sell
BrandVoice, is now helping the Post ramp up its native-ad platform,
called BrandConnect, which lets marketers post content to the
Post's website. He has brought on more advertisers and expanded its
scope to include print advertorials.
"The experiences around innovation and invention prepared me for
the bigger stage at the Post," he said. (Katherine Weymouth,
publisher of the Post, has said Mr. Gentzel was not hired because
of his native-ad experience.)
Ms. Kopit Levien has gone on to perhaps an even larger stage as
exec-VP advertising at The New York Times. (She became Forbes'
chief revenue officer after Mr. Gentzel left in 2012.)
She's steering a project fraught with difficulty: introducing a
native-advertising platform at the Times, where members of the
newsroom will look upon the practice with skepticism. (The Times,
like the Post, has stressed that native ads are clearly labeled and
not produced by their newsrooms.)
Mike Smith helped develop Forbes' efforts in programmatic buying
-- another area where the company was aggressive. Hearst grabbed
him in July to shore up its programmatic efforts.
The Forbes alum with perhaps the most understated influence on
native advertising might be Lauren Wray, who led the San Francisco
sales team. Now VP-sales at Sharethrough, she's helping companies like
Time Inc. and USA Today Sports Media Group deliver native ads to
their sites and make native advertising scale. If Mr. Gentzel and
Ms. Kopit Levien are developing the oil wells, Ms. Wray is building
Joe McCambley, co-founder of New York agency The Wonder Factory,
said the publishing world will benefit if these Forbes alumni live
up to their expectations, which is to arrive at media companies
destined to invent ad products.
"Hopefully, they won't settle to merely copy the Forbes model,"