Tara Walpert Levy

Visible World

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Friends of Tara Walpert Levy said she was crazy to leave her associate partnership at McKinsey & Co. to become general manager of Visible World in 2005. She had a different perspective: It "leaped out because it was exactly what advertisers had been telling me they needed for the past decade."

Visible World's advanced video-advertising platform delivers intelligent advertising -- or "IntelliSpots" -- that can be swapped and edited on the fly automatically and from any location to reflect factors such as household profile, time of day, weather and programming.

For all the angst about the TV spot's demise, she argues that consumers aren't anti-commercial; they just don't like irrelevant commercials. "The onus is on advertisers to keep commercials fresh, interesting and relevant. Our technology makes that possible, " says Ms. Walpert Levy, who was promoted to president in 2006.

From the start, Ms. Walpert Levy set out to "drive communications around how the system works in a way that reduced people's fear" about adopting a new technology. Visible World has forged partnerships with Comcast Corp., Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Viacom, Fox and DoubleClick, among others. More than 200 advertisers -- including Lenovo, Wendy's International, Sears and Kmart -- use IntelliSpot to manage campaigns.

Having established a leadership position in household-addressable advertising, Ms. Walpert Levy, 34, and her team will next focus on bringing Visible World into personal video recorders, video on demand and internet-protocol TV.

"Advertisers have been clear that they value the fact that we're agnostic across platforms," she says. "As those platforms change, we want to make sure we're ahead of that curve."

Bill Katz, executive chairman and director of Visible World, describes Ms. Walpert Levy as "innately brilliant -- and I mean brilliant," noting in particular her capacity to translate complex concepts into embraceable language. "She can communicate with a Harvard University scientist as effectively as with a traffic manager at an ad agency," he says. "With Tara, we're talking about an extremely well-rounded level of skill and intelligence."

When Ms. Walpert Levy isn't blazing business trails, she writes screenplays -- "mostly romantic comedies," she says. After capping her Harvard B.A. in economics with a Harvard M.B.A., she was an associate producer on the 2002 film "The Mothman Prophecies." She was also associate producer on a long-form web ad for Volvo.

And those friends who thought she was nuts for leaving McKinsey? "Oh, well," Ms. Walpert Levy says. "Now they say it's one of the smartest things I've ever done."
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