- Business Insider named 10 advertising executives to its list of 100 people transforming business.
- They include a direct-to-consumer visionary, TV advertising power player, and the CMO behind whacky ad campaigns.
- See the full list of the 100 people transforming business here.
The $US221 billion US ad industry is being upended by the rise of digital ad giants, fragmented consumer attention, and marketers’ ever-increasing pressure for results.
We identified 10 visionaries who are disrupting established sectors from the outside or transforming legacy ones from within. Read on to see the full list of 10 people transforming advertising.
Profiles compiled by Tanya Dua, Abby Jackson, Lauren Johnson, and Lucia Moses.
Colleen Aubrey, the global VP of performance advertising at Amazon, is charged with winning over big brands
Colleen Aubrey is taking on the duopoly.
The long-time Amazon employee helps advertisers understand Amazon’s sprawling array of ad formats and e-commerce tactics. Aubrey is especially focused on persuading big brands to advertise on Amazon by offering them better measurement and discovery tools.
The goal is to combat the digital ad dominance of Facebook and Google, which together gobbled 57.7% of US digital ad budgets in 2018, according to Pivotal Research. Amazon had a 4.1% share.
“Amazon has done a really great job in solving shopping for products, and we haven’t really cracked the code on how customers shop and build affinity for brands,” Aubrey told Business Insider.
In one example, she’s rolled out a feature called Stores, which marketers use to design and merchandise their own digital storefronts and view stats like traffic and sales. She’s also working to get brands to adopt a metric called new to brand, which measures the number of people who purchased a brand for the first time in one year as a result of seeing an ad.
Randy Freer, the CEO at Hulu, has grown Hulu faster than any other streaming service
We’re living in a world with more ways to watch TV than ever.
But even with all that competition and little more than a year on the job, Hulu CEO Randy Freer grew Hulu faster than any other streaming service in 2018, adding 8 million customers, a nearly 50% increase.
Hulu’s grown by leaning more heavily into original programming like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Castle Rock” and tinkering with price structures, most recently dropping the ad-supported service to $US5.99 a month from $US7.99.
The pricing change will drive even more growth according to experts who say ad revenue will balloon to $US2.7 billion by 2021, up from $US1.5 billion in 2018.
Hulu is still operating at a loss, and with roughly 25 million subscribers it still lags behind Netflix’s 58 million US customers. But Freer expects Hulu to grow even more in 2019 than it did in 2018, and wants to see Hulu get to 50 million subscribers to cement its streaming dominance.
“This is still a business where you need to scale in order to be competitive,” Freer told Business Insider.
Tara Walpert Levy, the VP of agency solutions for Google and YouTube, is keeping controversy-shy advertisers on YouTube
YouTube has its eyes set on TV, and it’s Tara Walpert Levy who will be pitching advertisers to buy YouTube ads through big upfront deals again this spring.
Walpert Levy spearheads Google’s relationships with advertisers and third parties that marketers use to vet YouTube’s measurement and tweak creative. As more consumers stream video content on smart TVs, YouTube is pushing advertisers to invest digital and TV budgets into the platform.
“Networks aren’t so much the gatekeepers to what is the hottest content right now – it’s the viewers themselves who are determining what matters and influences culture,” she told Business Insider.
Along the way, she’s had to deal with brand-safety concerns of ads appearing next to objectionable content. But Walpert Levy has gotten YouTube’s biggest advertisers like P&G and AT&T to return to the platform by explaining changes that the Google-owned site is making, like using machine learning to weed out offensive comments.
Tobi Lutke, the founder and CEO of Shopify, is giving Amazon a run for its money
If there’s one company that worries Amazon in the US it’s Shopify.
In 2006, Tobi Lütke turned the e-commerce platform he created to sell his own line of snowboards into a full-fledged software giant that more than 800,000 merchants rely on to power their business.
The rise in direct-to-consumer companies like Allbirds, Outdoor Voices, and Bombas that want to avoid Amazon, with its reputation for keeping an iron grip on data, are helping boost Shopify’s ballooning business.
And as more DTC companies experiment with brick-and-mortar stores, Shopify is keeping pace, rolling out technology like point-of-sale payment and ship-to-store features for brands. Moves like this have helped Canadian-based Shopify grow revenue 59% in 2018, to $US1.1 billion.
Next up, 38-year-old Lütke wants to test tools like augmented reality with merchants so someone shopping for a couch can virtually fit it in their house before buying it, for example.
“Over the long term, we are hoping to build an institution that enables more entrepreneurship around the world,” Lütke told Business Insider. “Contrary to what a lot of people think, entrepreneurship is actually on the decline. In 100 years, I see Shopify as the company that helped reverse this trend line.”
Fernando Machado, the global CMO of Burger King, is responsible for some of the fast-food giant’s most creative campaigns
Burger King has been doing one creative, innovative, or downright wacky ad campaign after another, and much of the credit goes to Fernando Machado. Whether he’s delivering flame-grilled burns to McDonald’s or wading into social issues, all his ads have had panache.
Machado has been the driving force behind campaigns that have tackled issues like anti-bullying, LGBTQ rights, and net neutrality – and also poked fun at technology in ads like Google Home of the Whopper. Most recently, he oversaw Burger King’s first Super Bowl spot in 13 years, which turned archival footage of Andy Warhol eating a Whopper into a 45-second ad.
“Our most successful campaigns have always been different and unique,” Machado told Business Insider. “The Andy Warhol video was the same. It worked because it was the exact opposite of everything else there.”
Marc Pritchard, the chief brand officer at Procter & Gamble, has been a voice of conscience for the marketing industry
When Marc Pritchard speaks, the advertising industry listens.
The chief brand officer of the world’s largest advertiser has picked up the gauntlet on some of the biggest issues in the industry, from cleaning up digital advertising’s messes to cutting waste from ad budgets.
He evangelizes that brands be not only forces of growth but forces of good. Inside P&G, Pritchard has boosted P&G’s sales despite slashing spending on digital ads and promoted societal debate with brands like Gillette that have taken strong points of view on social issues.
“People expect more today from brands and companies – it’s not optional,” Pritchard told Business Insider. “Most of our brands have found ways of trying to do good for the world as well as do good for their business.”
Jeff Raider, CEO of Harry’s Labs, helped popularise direct-to-consumer brands
As the cofounder of the eyeglasses retailer Warby Parker and the shaving company Harry’s, Jeff Raider helped set off a direct-to-consumer revolution.
The trend of brands that got their start online has not only forced CPG stalwarts like Procter & Gamble and Unilever to rethink the way they go to market but also caused media companies and agencies to change how they operate to cater to these digital-native brands.
Now Raider is looking for new categories to conquer at Harry’s Labs, an accelerator that helps identify other product categories to disrupt. It’s already launched Flamingo, a Harry’s-like shaving brand for women, and is looking to introduce one or two more companies this year. Raider said companies with a direct link to the consumer are well positioned at a time when purpose-driven marketing is all the rage.
“People want brands that have purpose, and brands that start as DTC have more space to tell that story,” Raider told Business Insider. “You get to deeply understand the consumer by having emails for them.”
Hans Vestberg, CEO of Verizon, is leading the way for the spread of 5G
5G, the next generation of wireless technology, is expected to deliver a faster, more reliable internet connection, and Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg sits at the center of most conversations about it.
Vestberg’s elevation to the top of the nation’s largest wireless carrier from CTO back in August signalled the company’s move from the media business and toward building a next-generation network.
The role was right for Vestberg, a network engineer who was CEO of Ericsson before he came to Verizon. In less than a year as CEO, Vestberg helped Verizon become the first US telecom to offer 5G, launching a home 5G broadband service in October. Its plan is to launch mobile broadband service in 30 US cities in 2019.
Verizon hasn’t said how many people have adopted its home 5G service, and has walked back earlier ambitious predictions about how fast it will grow. But Verizon continues to be the leader in a transformational technology some compare to the invention of the wheel or steam power.
Brian Whipple, the CEO at Accenture Interactive, is disrupting traditional ad agencies
Nothing makes advertising agencies shudder more than the thought of consulting firms coming to eat their lunch, and none as much as Accenture Interactive.
As the head of the agency wing of the consulting giant, Brian Whipple has proved that a consultancy can pose a real threat to agencies.
In the past year, Whipple has led Accenture Interactive to produce work for clients including Disney and Marriott and led the company into programmatic advertising with the creation of its Accenture Interactive Programmatic Services unit.
He’s also expanded its global footprint with the acquisitions of Kolle Rebbe in Germany, New Content in Brazil, and Storm Digital in the Netherlands, and, most recently, Droga5 in the US, its biggest acquisition since being formed in 2009.
“We’re in the business of reinventing experiences – the way people vacation or the way they book travel or dine or shop,” Whipple told Business Insider. “And ad agencies are nowhere near that.”
Linda Yaccarino, the chair of advertising sales and client partnerships at NBCUniversal, is pushing for innovation to preserve the $US70 billion TV business
There’s universal agreement that the $US70 billion TV industry needs to evolve how it sells and measures itself as viewers migrate to multiple devices. But few have as big a perch and megaphone to do something about it as the sales chief of Comcast’s NBCUniversal, where Linda Yaccarino oversees more than $US10 billion in annual ad revenue.
Yaccarino is a reliable critic of Facebook and other digital platforms as inferior ad channels, and she has spearheaded efforts to get other TV giants to put aside their rivalries and work together to evolve how TV is measured.
At NBCU, in recent years she dropped Nielsen for CNBC for not counting all the financial news network’s viewing, got once siloed sales teams to collaborate, and is working to improve the TV-watching experience by cutting the number of ads people see. A big initiative underway is getting other TV sellers to adopt its cross-platform measurement system called CFlight.
Yaccarino conceded NBCU’s got work to do in getting the industry to adopt CFlight, but promised “we are sure as hell racing to get there.”
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