When we compiled our list of the most important people in mobile advertising — the Mobile Power List 2012 — it contained one depressing anomaly: They were all men.
While there are plenty of influential women in the business, most of them have CEOs above them who are male. When women are CEOs, it tends to be at smaller companies they founded themselves.
So we set out to find and rank the most powerful women in the mobile ad business.
Go straight to the list >
First, we asked our readers to submit nominations. To ensure the nominations weren’t self-serving, we also asked you to submit two nominations from other companies, rivals or colleagues.
This is not a complete list of every influential woman in mobile advertising, obviously. We chose the women with larger client bases, greater revenues (or spending) further reach, larger staffs and more innovative ideas than their peers. There are plenty of women who could have been named to the list, but because they work for companies where there is a peer company that employs an even more powerful woman, we didn’t include them here. We also discriminated against companies that aren’t specific about their revenues, employee headcounts and user reach.
The result is a list that counts not just the most important women in the business, but the women who are also the most prominent for their company type. (For further detail, we discuss the methodology behind the rankings at the end of the list.)
Adelphic Mobile only launched this year but Lum makes it onto the list because of her resume and connections: She was vp/advertising operations at Quattro Wireless, the company that was acquired by Apple and turned into iAd.
She's been in mobile advertising since 2005, and mentors and invests in other small mobile companies.
We're curious to see how successful Lum and Adelphic's 'predictive data platform' will be.
20. Anna Bager, vp/general manager at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Mobile Marketing centre of Excellence
Leake co-founded LocalResponse with Nihal Mehta, the investor best known for his early funding of AdMob. She makes the list because of LocalResponse's ingenious but simple offering: It's a mobile retargeting agency that serves location-based ads based on the content of your social media actions. If you tweet that you're hungry, you might next see a local pizza joint ad, for instance.
LocalReponse claims to serve 7 billion impressions per month for clients such as Coca-Cola, General Motors, and Walgreens.
What her colleagues and competitors told us:
'Prior to founding LR, Kathy was Founder and Chief Revenue Officer at social targeting company Media6Degrees. She pretty much rocked it, taking Media6 to $20M in revenue and $100M valuation in two years. '
'Kathy is a visionary in the ad targeting world.'
As the boss of Interpublic Group's mobile ad agency, Steele's potential client base consists of all IPG's clients. Ansible's current clients include Microsoft, Wells Fargo, Johnson & Johnson, Kia, and Intuit. Ansible also previously had a joint venture with Velti, the mobile ad network giant, which ended in 2010.
Since she joined Ansible in April 2011, IPG claims the agency has grown 176 per cent, doubled its staff size and added more than 15 new clients.
Her colleagues and competitors told us:
'Angela has built the agency into a dominant force in the industry in just one year. She is also the only CEO running a digital OR mobile agency.'
Creegan is one of only two female board members or executive leaders at the Mobile Marketing Association (the other one is Carolyn Everson, Facebook's vp/global marketing solutions).
She has been paying special attention to mobile ads recently due to the adoption of one of Microsoft's ad formats--the mobile filmstrip--as the IAB's new top standard format in mobile advertising and because Microsoft just launched its new Surface tablet, a rival to Apple's iPad.
And, of course, there's the Nokia Lumia 900 Windows Phone, Microsoft's beautiful new mobile operating system which Creegan doubtlessly hopes won't remain an 'also-ran' in the Android-iPhone race.
Mobile Theory claims it delivered $240 million in ad revenue to publishers in 2011, with a total audience reach of 350 million users. Its clients include Coca-Cola, Paramount Pictures and Chase Bank and publishers on the Opera ad platform include AOL, Gannett, Hachette Filipacchi, News Corp., and The Guardian.
The company opened new offices in Chicago and Los Angeles earlier this year.
Opera is huge in Brazil and Asia as a mobile browsing platform. It also counts a number of premium publishers as clients. If, as rumour has it, Facebook buys Opera, then it will also be acquiring Mobile Theory, the mobile network Opera acquired earlier this year.
All that puts Chriss at the centre of a potentially huge mobile network.
Although few Americans know O2, the wireless provider is huge in Europe -- and Valoti is the woman with P&L responsibility for O2 Media's success with advertising clients. She oversees about 65 employees, a source tells us. O2 has about 10 million customers who have opted-in to its permission-based ad service. Pizza Hut, House of Fraser, Bulmers Cider and the Co-Op supermarket chain are clients.
Prior to O2 she was head of digital display and mobile at Mindshare, the WPP Group media-buying unit.
Her colleagues tell us:
'Claire is one of the very few female mobile focused MDs in the U.K.'
McKelvey is responsible for the public image of Millennial Media, the mobile ad company that went public earlier this year with $33 million in Q1 revenues and 265 employees.
She serves on the Mobile Advertising and the Networks and Exchanges Committees in the Interactive Advertising Bureau.
Her colleagues and competitors told us:
'She was the brains behind Millennial Media's marketing efforts -- communications, branding, everyone -- that made them into one of the leading companies in the space today.'
'Mack never loses her cool under fire. I've watched her successfully juggle extremely time sensitive and message sensitive communications while keeping her focus centered on the customer.'
Rau is the only female member of Velti's 17-person senior management team.
Velti is huge in mobile ad buying and campaign management. The publicly traded company had revenues of $51.8 million in Q1 2012. Velti says the mid-point estimate for the company's 2012 revenue is $291 million. It has about 1,000 employees in 35 global offices (about 225 employees are in the U.S.) It boasts more than 1,000 global brands, agencies, and operators as clients in more than 68 countries.
She joined the company in 2010. Rau was previously a partner with DLA Piper and she holds a J.D. from the University of Oregon.
Her colleagues said:
'There are particular skills that separate business innovators. Sally is the epitome of an innovator, she is inspirational, approachable and always focused on the big picture.'
Laugh all you want, but think of it this way: What does T-Mobile do the day Foulkes decides she doesn't want to wear pink anymore?
The company is in terrible trouble mainly because it doesn't offer the iPhone to its customers. T-Mobile has steadily lost customers and revenues in recent months following its failure to merge with AT&T. Its wireless service and coverage is, in our estimation, superior to that of AT&T. But without the Apple device, no one cares.
Yet everyone loves Foulkes--a huge part of the company's brand equity rests on her shoulders.
Brandt came to Jumptap with about 20 years of financial management experience, much of it in tech. Crucially, she's done M&A deals as both buyer and seller in her previous roles. She would be a key player in Jumptap's upcoming IPO and the rumoured Amazon acquisition talks. (A threeway marriage of the Kindle, Amazon.com, and Jumptap could create a formidable challenge to both Apple and Facebook in terms of mobile ads and shopping--especially if Amazon develops its own phone, as it is rumoured to be doing.)
Jumptap's targeted ads for clients such as Adidas, Best Buy, and Lincoln reach 107 million mobile users in the U.S. and 156 million mobile users worldwide, the company claims.
Brandt is one of only two women in Jumptap's 11-member senior leadership team.
Celtra claimed '1000% year-over-year revenue growth in 2011' following wide adoption of its self-service platform, AdCreator. The rich mobile media company now has offices in Boston, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, London and Ljubljana, and it delivers campaigns for 8 out of the top 10 media agencies. Its clients include Carat, Digitas, Hill Holliday, Isobar Mobile, Joule, MEC, Mindshare and Mobext.
As Celtra's most senior female executive, Lieberman has driven much of that business. And she's been around the block--Lieberman was working in mobile marketing in 2004, before the iPhone.
Here's what her colleagues and competitors told us:
'She's a rock star.'
'She alone knows more about mobile advertising than most companies do. ... a vast network of connections within the space.'
'Polly is the one that execs call on to make the ads sexy and engaging: her brain has everything that the mobile media industry needs, all in one person!'
'One of the 'Original Gangsters' of mobile. She's been in the industry for 8+ years, starting at KikuCall.'
'Almost everyone in a room full of industry insiders comes up to talk to her and converse about her products.'
'The bulk of her current company's revenue can be tracked directly back to Polly.'
Frisbie manages a team of more than 100 employees in North America for InMobi, which claims to be the largest independent mobile ad network globally. It has 774 employees in offices in Bangalore, Johannesburg, London, Nairobi, New York, Paris, San Francisco, Seoul, Singapore and Tokyo.
Frisbie has been working in digital marketing since 1996. She was previously Yahoo!'s vp/category and sales intelligence until she joined InMobi in 2008. Prior to her work in digital media, Anne was an investment analyst at Goldman Sachs.
Her colleagues and competitors told us:
'EVERYONE knows Anne and her influence is indisputable -- gender aside.'
'I would expect InMobi, and specifically Anne's team, to be in the top 5 advertising networks in the US in terms of size and sales.'
'Anne is a powerhouse who is known and respected by all her peers in the industry. ... Despite what folks may perceive, Anne's was equally (if not more) instrumental to InMobi's market position than the founder's themselves. The truth should be known.'
Mandel Dunsche is the current North America chair of the Mobile Marketing Association. More importantly, she's responsible for driving ads sales on AT&T's network of 100 million wireless subscribers, 16.5 million high-speed Internet customers, and 4 million TV subscribers. AdWorks claims to offer 10 billion monthly ad impressions.
Previously, she was a senior partner/executive director of digital innovation at Ogilvy. She also did stints at DraftFCB and Lowe Worldwide and had a brief period on the client side at Kraft.
What her colleagues and competitors say:
'She has an eye for UI and a nose for BS, and is a joy to work with. I wish all my clients were like her.
There is huge untapped potential for Amazon and its Kindle in the mobile business. Even more so if Amazon goes ahead with a rumoured smartphone.
Although there are already ads running in some apps and on some versions of the Kindle, the difference between Kindle and other tablet devices is that the Kindle is expressly linked to Amazon's online store. It's the dedicated retail store of tablets, in other words. If Utzschneider is able to convince clients to tap its vast trove of shopper data on behalf of clients it could shift the mobile/tablet market dramatically.
Note to readers: We failed to include Utzschneider on the Mobile Power List 2012. In hindsight, that was probably a mistake.
Pandora is probably the No.4 business in mobile advertising, behind Google, Velti and Millennial Media. It claims $100 million-plus in revenues from mobile ad sales. At the rate it's growing under Luegers and vp/mobile ad sales Brian Colbert, don't be surprised to see Pandora rise higher in that ranking.
Like Maria Mandel at AT&T, Luegers is a refugee from the agency world. She previously worked on the media buying side at DraftFCB, OMD and MediaEdge.
Her colleagues told us:
'Kim was directing mobile strategy at DraftFCB before mobile was cool.'
'She was a part of the Mobile Marketing Association North American Advertising Committee team that successfully helped champion the mobile industry's recognition of the 15-second audio ad unit as a standard mobile ad format.'
In June, Everson pulled the trigger on a new ad product that could be a huge game-changer for the biggest social media company on the planet: She gave clients the ability to buy 'sponsored stories' ads on the mobile-only Facebook app platform.
It's early days yet, but as roughly 50 per cent of Facebook's 900 million users engage with the social network on their mobile devices, there is clearly huge potential for Facebook's mobile ad sales.
Haines has been at Google since 2005. The search giant has the largest mobile ad revenue stream on the planet--between $750 million and $4 billion, depending on who's counting. She's our No.1 most powerful woman in mobile ads due to that fact alone.
Interestingly, Haines' top priority is simply to persuade advertisers to get the basics right: A huge number of them don't have mobile-optimised web sites, and mobile users often prefer those for mobile shopping to apps.
We polled a wide selection of executives in the mobile advertising business. We asked them about the scale and reach of their own companies and then asked them to confidentially nominate two executives from different or competing companies that they feel are the most influential.
We then considered the following factors in ranking the Most Powerful Women In Mobile Advertising 2012:
- Revenues: Most companies don't disclose their revenues and those that do sometimes don't break out the portion of sales attributable to mobile ads. Where revenue numbers are available it factored heavily in favour of the executive whose operation generated them.
- Employees: Staff headcount isn't a perfect proxy for revenues but it's better than nothing.
- Reach: We consider numbers of devices, number of impressions and number of ads served as a gauge of importance in the market.
- Innovation: It's a fast-moving business, and although some companies are still quite small, they appear to have original ideas that make them much more influential than their size suggests.
- Best representative: Obviously, there are many other executives in the mobile ad business who could have been named on this list. We took a selection from the various sectors of the business--ad agencies, exchange networks, media sellers and so on--and tried to pick the person whose business best represents the sector.
Do you think we missed someone who should be on this list? Tell us in the comments (below) or email [email protected] with your nomination.
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