Mavericks, evangelists, visionaries, provocateurs, gurus, and creative entrepreneurs -all are terms used to identify people who embody the tenacious qualities that propel their businesses forward. No matter what you call them, the 50 stellar individuals who appear in the following pages, have made an impact in online media and are MEDIA Magazine's 50 People You Should Know In Digital Media.
They include publishers such as Yahoo!'s Wenda Harris Millard; agency executives Kevin Wassong of digital@jwt and Rishad Tobaccowala of Starcom IP; and technology solutions providers like Tacoda's Dave Morgan. You'll notice the list isn't ranked, nor do the individuals on it necessarily marshal the biggest budgets or head the largest organizations. The various and sundry criteria we used to come up with this list sparked a big discussion and ultimately, we settled on a mix of subjective factors each with varying degrees of weight. In other words, it wasn't a scientific process and doesn't pretend to be an exhaustive list, but it is OUR list.
We hope you'll enjoy comparing which of these individuals you might have suggested, and whether you agree with us that these 50, are indeed, significant players who are influencing the direction of online media.
Tim Armstrong racks up frequent flier miles as swiftly as Google racks up advertiser clients. As VP of advertising sales, Armstrong regularly treks between the Big Apple and Silicon Valley. In the three and a half years he's spent balancing the firm's technological capabilities with the needs of its customers, Armstrong has clocked 1.5 million air travel miles, while Google has acquired 150,000 advertisers.
"I've always been at companies that are a cross between technology and media," explains Armstrong, who started out in the interactive space by joining one of the first online content and ad firms, Starwave, in 1994.
In his promotion of the company's ad offerings, Armstrong stresses the importance of satisfying not only the advertiser but the publisher and user as well. In a few short years, he has helped Google catapult search marketing to great heights and shifted thinking among marketers who have now added search into the budget. - Kate Kaye
director, global iMarketing
Procter & Gamble
P&G's global marketing czarina focuses on the Internet's role in building relationships with consumers.
EVP, agency development
Consummate facilitator and bridge-builder for agencies and online publishers.
chief media revenue officer
Powerful on any number of levels; has brought MSN double-digit growth and blue-chip clients.
Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Montana)
Can-Spam legislation author
Burns co-authored the Can-Spam Act of 2003 and galvanized public debate on the scourge of spam.
Internet media wizard and innovator, who's helped guide Modem to numerous industry awards.
SVP, interactive media director
Universal McCann Interactive
David Cohen started out thinking that medicine was his calling. Although he soon switched gears, that history of combining strategic thinking with technology formed a foundation for the career in media he truly enjoys. "I've always been a techno-geek," concludes Cohen, SVP, interactive media director at Universal McCann Interactive.
When Cohen first joined McCann-Erickson's digital arm Thunder House in 1998, it was common to find online media relegated to afterthought status at agencies. Now that Universal McCann's interactive and traditional groups are integrated, Cohen pushes the envelope between content and advertising for clients like The Coca-Cola Co. and Johnson & Johnson. He admits that marketplace forces like erosion in TV efficacy and increasing broadband adoption "are empowering interactive folks to have a seat at the adult table." - Kate Kaye
chief creative officer
Has dazzled clients with innovative creative approaches and works well with the offline team at BBDO.
SVP and chief marketing officer
Successfully guides attention from ongoing legal actions to the benefits of contextual behavioral marketing.
Carat North America
Sarah Fay is a recognizable, go-to executive on the interactive media circuit and an experienced leader both within her agency and network and in the online industry. Fay and Carat were practitioners of integrated media before the words became an over-used buzz phrase. Under Fay's leadership, Carat Interactive has expanded from an interactive media shop to a full-service digital marketing agency with clients including Pfizer, Microsoft, RadioShack, Adidas, Palm, Wachovia, and Electronic Arts.
She has also managed to leverage consolidation within the interactive agency sector to Carat's advantage, leading the acquisitions of Vizium, Lot21, and Freestyle Interactive. Further, her talent for collaborating with key executives within those shops, facilitated a smooth integration of resources. The acquisitions have helped Carat incorporate new capabilities including customer relationship management and online creative development. - Tobi Elkin
Tribal DDB North America
Staunch advocate of online creative; believes that by improving quality, online advertising will thrive.
Senior-VP, group director-strategy & innovation
Adam Gerber could not be more ideally situated in the evolving media landscape: At MediaVest, his mission on behalf of some 90 P&G brands is to understand how they can leverage the dramatic changes taking place in the evolving TV and broadband marketplace to more effectively communicate with consumers. With twelve years of agency media planning and buying experience for clients as diverse as Burger King, UPS, AT&T and Unilever, Gerber is no stranger to consumer brands and how consumers interact with media.
In 1996 he became an early player in the online media space from working at AOL. He spent more than three years at the Mediaedge:cia's Digital Edge unit helping clients navigate the evolving online advertising space. His latest move to MediaVest in 2003 puts him back squarely in the the traditional agency side. Gerber serves on the AAAAs advanced TV committee, and advisory boards of comScore Networks, AdTech, and the IAB.- Tobi Elkin
Chairman, CEO, and chief creative officer
Bob Greenberg is a creative and digital visionary whose career began with a focus on motion graphics and live action film production, and has evolved to offer clients multi-channel expertise in all forms of interactive communication. R/GA's clients include Bank of America, Circuit City, and Nike. Greenberg has earned numerous industry awards including Clios and Cannes Lions, and is known for his pioneering work in non-linear digital media.
He is an advocate of using digital technologies to shoot TV commercials and then re-purposing the assets for use on the Web, for print, and direct mail. "This is a more efficient and cost-effective model for clients, since budgets are now being stretched to include campaigns across multiple channels," Greenberg said. "Designers need to architect truly immersive Web experiences, not linear stories as is done in traditional media," he added. Greenberg is the president of the 2004 Cyber Lions Jury at the Cannes International Advertising festival. - Tobi Elkin
chairman & CEO
Advertising vet and pioneer whose company launched leading-edge interactive, full-screen superstitials.
Michael J. Kelly
president-AOL network sales & solutions
Time Inc. veteran was tapped recently to helm AOL's newly overhauled ad sales organization.
exec. dir. of marketing & sales
Wall Street Journal Online
Has helped guide the Online Journal into the largest paid subscription Website; champion of online media.
interactive media manager
First marketer to participate in a cross-media optimization study - showed online's role in the media mix.
Starcom MediaVest Group
Created a broadband media upfront by buying more than $5 million in online media for three clients.
SVP & GM, advertiser & publisher solutions
Adovate for DoubleClick's Web tools: DART for Advertisers and Publishers, DART Enterprise, and DART Motif.
A big part of the reason why the New York Times Digital's revenues for January spiked more than 40 percent.
Leads Avenue A's mission to offer clients return on their media investment via data-centric planning.
vice chairman, president-AOL Core Service
Leading AOL into the broadband era. Considered a visionary with a practical side.
WPP Group's mOne
Tapped by WPP to lead a new kind of media agency that transcends the traditional and the expected.
EVP-sales and marketing
Pioneered MarketWatch's use of full-screen ad formats and other innovative creative units.
The guru of email marketing; has finger on the pulse of rich media technology.
Wenda Harris Millard
chief sales officer
Merely selling ad space on one of the Web's most visited portals is not enough for Wenda Harris Millard. Yahoo!'s chief sales officer strives to help the ads, and the industry itself, be the best they can be.
Millard has held sales and management positions with well-known media outfits like Adweek, Family Circle, and Ziff Davis Media. So it came as no surprise when this unabashed devotee of all things media ventured into the interactive world. As a founding member of DoubleClick, Millard was able to assist in the development of another Web media powerhouse.
"The potential of being a part of an entirely new channel was compelling to me," explains Millard. Through her work with the IAB to establish measurement guidelines as well as her involvement with Yahoo's! Born to Be Wired study of teen media consumption patterns, Millard is helping to drive a more thorough understanding of interactive media. - Kate Kaye
east coast media director
Specializes in customer relationship management, direct marketing, branding, and ROI research.
founder and CEO
Dave Morgan sold his first online ad on the Pennsylvania Newspaper Association bulletin board 13 years ago. Back then, little did he know he'd become a driving force in propelling the Internet toward its current status as a viable advertising medium.
Today, Morgan is founder and CEO of New York-based Tacoda Systems, a software firm that serves the target marketing and audience management needs of clients such as Weather.com and USAToday.com. Morgan also founded Real Media Inc., which merged with 24/7 Media to become the online ad network powerhouse we know today as 24/7 Real Media.
It's been a bumpy ride, but Morgan has remained a true believer in the power of the Web. "I was able to come out of the rough times with an understanding of what media companies and marketers hoped the online channel would do before the stock market bubble made it crazy."
At Tacoda, Morgan is helping marketers make their messages more relevant to the right people. - Kate Kaye
New York Times Digital
An influencer when it comes to new online ad formats and advocating for powerful creative on the Web.
Helms the leading provider of research on marketing and cross-media effectiveness.
Beyond Interactive U.S.
An innovative online strategist, he plays a key role in the integration of Beyond into MediaCom Worldwide.
Turned eMarketer into a powerful aggregator of data, research, and info for marketers and media people.
Kathleen Olvany Riordan
VP of internet and e-marketing
Responsible for Kraft's brand websites, online advertising, promotions, and email marketing.
When Kevin Ryan joined DoubleClick in 1996, the common thinking at the time was that the Web would be a subscription-driven medium. However, Ryan, who previously launched Dilbert.com, one of the first ad-supported sites, while working with United Media, and worked at Euro Disney in France, believed otherwise. "I made a bet that the Internet would be big and advertising would drive it," he says. That forethought steered him to DoubleClick.
Since Ryan started with the company, it's grown from a small outfit focusing on online ad management to a publicly traded giant with offices worldwide and services branching from offline direct marketing to rich media ad execution.
Achieving common ground for the international Internet advertising industry has always been mission critical for Ryan and DoubleClick. "The Internet is inherently global," says Ryan. It comes as no surprise that under Ryan's leadership, DoubleClick has become one of the online ad industry's most influential proponents of standardization. - Kate Kaye
Dir. of business development, strategic sponsorships
Charged with scoring new, and exclusive sponsorship opportunities for auction powerhouse Ebay.
The Digital Edge/ Mediaedge:cia
Alan Schanzer helped found The Digital Edge, the digital media shop within Mediaedge:cia, in 1999. When digital divisions within larger agencies and standalone shops folded during the dotcom meltdown, The Digital Edge held its ground with an emphasis on integrating online and offline media for traditional clients well before media integration became a ballyhooed must.
Schanzer scouts new media opportunities for a client roster that includes AT&T, Best Western, Campbell Soup, Colgate-Palmolive, MetLlife, and TD Waterhouse. Schanzer created TDE's Emerging Communications Studio, a state-of-the-art media center and lounge where both TDE and Mediaedge:cia clients can experience first-hand, emerging media applications. Also last year, Schanzer successfully added a search marketing capability to the agency. Schanzer is a member of the IAB's and MSN's advisory councils. - Tobi Elkin
Washington Post Co.
Until early January of this year, Christopher Schroeder was the CEO and publisher of Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the Washington Post Co.'s digital unit and the chairman of the Online Publishers Association.
Since his arrival in the top spot at WPNI in 1999, Schroeder's leadership helped washingtonpost.com's traffic rise more than 160 percent and measured page reviews to more than 185 million. Revenues increased by more than 250 percent. In a nod to his accomplishments, Schroeder was promoted recently by Washington Post Co. chairman Donald Graham to oversee all of the company's digital and advanced media strategies. Schroeder earned the American Advertising Federation's Hall of Achievement award in 2003. -Tobi Elkin
chief creative officer
Brand New World
Advises media agencies and clients on new media technologies that make an impact.
founder and CEO
The go-to guy for traditional marketers looking to leverage the Internet.
VP-group account director
An online media visionary who has led work on such clients as Alcatel, Amtrak, and Volkswagen.
president and CEO
Presided over strong growth at Forbes.com which ended 2003 with a 60 percent increase in revenue.
NY State attorney general
Had the courage and conviction to take legal action against spammers, sparking anti-spam legistration across the U.S.
Internet Advertising Bureau
Equal parts gadfly, maverick, and industry evangelist, Greg Stuart helms the interactive advertising sector's trade association managing a group comprised of diverse members whose concerns find a home in nearly 20 individual committees. The association represents interactive advertising and marketing companies that are responsible for selling more than 85 percent of online advertising in the U.S.
Stuart came to the post at the end of 2001 during online advertising's worst hour. Since that time, he has increased the association's membership five-fold, established standards and practices around rich media ad usage, created ad format standards, and spearheaded the IAB's cross-media optimization studies. In Q1 1996, the IAB and PwC reported Internet ad revenue at $30 million. By Q4 2003 estimated revenue reached $2.2 billion. "It is clear to me as a former agency person and marketer that this growth is a direct result of the power of the Internet medium to reach and influence consumers effectively and efficiently." - Tobi Elkin
A pre-bubble vet who continues to thrive with a roster of blue-chip clients and an unflagging faith in the 'Net.
Starcom MediaVest Group's SMG IP
He's been called a provocateur, and Rishad Tobaccowala, founder and president of Starcom MediaVest Group's SMG IP, is okay with that. In fact, he prides himself on his ability to shift people's thinking about media. "In the future," prognosticates the media visionary boldly, "the top 50 most influential people in online advertising will be the 50 least significant people in the world." His rationale: "Everything is becoming digital." Through initiatives like SMG's SMG Next, Tobaccowala ensures that SMG remains relevant to its clients by challenging them to "plan today through the prism of tomorrow." The company's effort to combine upfront deals for traditional media with broadband was developed with that goal in mind.
Tobaccowala crossed the globe last year gathering insights from clients about how not only to handle the media realities of today, but how to plan for those on the horizon.- Kate Kaye
dir. of digital media & marketing
Spots key opportunities for the beverage brand to showcase its interactive prowess.
A new media evangelist and practitioner who practice what he preaches.
Senior-VP, strategic marketing & new media
Samsung Electronics America
Peter Weedfald is no stranger to online media. Prior to Samsung, he was an executive at Bigfoot Interactive, a provider of permission-based email marketing and creative services. He was also a publisher of IDG's ComputerWorld, where he guided both offline and online advertising efforts, and served as a publisher for several Ziff-Davis publications.
At Samsung, Weedfald is responsible for revolutionizing the consumer electronics marketer's use of the Internet and web media. In the last two years, he implemented smart online advertising buys across multiple online publishers and portals, giving Samsung an online presence, he is proud to say is, "24-by-7, 365-days a year." Advertising and promotion on the Web was critical for the brand. Under Weedfald's leadership, Samsung's web advertising presence increased, but also its use of the Internet to run direct marketing, e-commerce, consumer loyalty, and other initiatives. - Tobi Elkin
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Oregon)
Can-Spam legislation author
Worked for four years on the Can-Spam legislation that eventually became law this year.
Online Publishers Association
Michael Zimbalist is in the unique position of representing a trade association whose members are among the most recognized brands in the publishing arena. The OPA was formed in 2001 in order to represent the interests of premium content brands such as Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive, the ESPN Internet Group, USAToday, and NYTimes.com. In its relatively short lifespan, Zimbalist is responsible for leading the OPA's s research studies on topics including at-work web usage and consumer attachment to online brands. Zimbalist and the OPA are bringing greater awareness of online publishing brands and their role in people's lives to advertisers, the media, agencies, and consumers at large. Prior to his role at the OPA, Zimbalist was a marketing and business development exec with ePod, an ad technology company, headed online services for United Media, a division of E.W. Scripps Co., worked for ABC-TV's multimedia group, and Disney's Imagineer. - Tobi Elkin