Horizon Media CEO Bill Koenigsberg: Where I Find Innovation

It's a Culture, Not a Tactic

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In our first installment of Basics, a series of quick conversations with media leaders on everything you need to know in order to succeed, new MagnaGlobal CEO Tim Spengler explained how he hires. Today Horizon Media CEO Bill Koenigsberg describes the necessary ingredients for innovation.

Bill Koenigsberg
Bill Koenigsberg

Advertising Age: How is Horizon specifically trying to innovate?

Bill Koenigsberg: We are testing new technology, we are using consumer insights to drive innovation in how we engage with consumers, and we launched the Horizon Proving Ground, an in-market media lab using low-powered TV stations.

That gets us into 300,000 homes in upstate New York and we are going to make investments in others so we will have a universe of 2.5 million homes where I own inventory and can test in the marketplace [new solutions, such as] driving people to the web, to polling, to interacting, to new creative, to testing pilots, to new technology for driving engagement. We are using it now. The entire media ecosystem has upped its game in innovation, but there is a yellow flashing light and those who innovate are going to win the land grab as we move into the future. And those who don't will be left behind.

Ad Age : Innovation is one of those buzzwords you hear a lot of these days, but it means different things to different businesses. What does innovation mean to you in the media business?

Mr. Koenigsberg: Innovation is about breaking through with big, fresh, novel ideas that help move a brand or drive sales on behalf of our clients. In a world of sameness, you need differentiation and innovation is the margin of difference between success and failure.

Ad Age : Practically speaking, how do you ensure that and how do you look for innovation?

Mr. Koenigsberg: A lot of people think of innovation as a tactic, but it is a culture, and you need a recipe for it. You need the right people to drive innovation, the right tools and technology derived from insights on where innovation is born, you need the right environment. Environment drives innovation, investment drives innovation, time drives innovation. Ideas pop into your head and sometimes you need an incubator for them and you need time for them to breathe. And you need to have the right to fail.

Ad Age : Why is the right to fail so important?

Mr. Koenigsberg: Innovation is about calculated risk-taking and not everything is going to be a home run and so the right to fail provides no boundaries. Because if failure is a boundary you are limited in your thinking.

AdAge: Where do you think the ad industry most needs innovation right now? Metrics, data, creative?

Mr. Koenigsberg: A consumer marketer is no longer in 100% control of its brand -- the consumer has taken control because of how we consume media -- so the innovation bar needs to be raised everywhere, in technology, in creative, in metrics. But it's also not something you reach. It's a constantly evolving mindset and everyone is taking a stab at it and you have to continually raise the bar because that 's how you foster innovation.

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