Brad Adgate

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Number-crunching skills still matter, but as advertisers and their agencies face a rising tide of new media data, instincts and experience are valuable tools for a media analyst, says Brad Adgate, 47, senior VP-director of research at Horizon Media, New York.

Mr. Adgate is a rare generalist in a field that is increasingly specialized. He has made a name for himself in recent years helping sort out the chaos in a rapidly changing industry, while pointing out intriguing trends, risks and opportunities for clients and the media industry as a whole.

"Working for an independent agency allows me to range over the entire spectrum of media," he says.

Starting with his first job in the research department of Grey Advertising in 1978, Mr. Adgate observed firsthand the combination of statistical analysis and gut instinct used by Helen Johnston, one of media research's pioneers.

"I was amazed at how she could instantly know things, but now I do the same thing by putting new information together [with experience on] how media work," he says.

A certain healthy skepticism is especially valuable today, he says. "Research has always provided insight into how people are consuming media, but over the years it has evolved dramatically and now it's also about media's context and the growing complexity of audiences in more media forms," he says.

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