There’s a recurring phrase in David Mamet’s 1988 obscure gangster comedy Things Change, something to the effect of: “You know, he’s the guy behind the guy…”
The Mediaweek 50 are exactly that—the executives who help the Rupert Murdochs and Martin Sorrells and Mark Zuckerbergs get on those “power lists” in more celebrity-focused titles. Our 50 most important movers in the media and media agency business are the ones who get their hands dirty, who wield the marketplace clout and who come up with the ideas that end up making bazillions for their companies.
Jeff Gaspin, No. 1 on our third annual Mediaweek 50 list, exemplifies these qualities. While
Gaspin’s boss Jeff Zucker got the corporate stripes at parent G.E. (and, to be fair, some of the blame for NBC’s problems), this Jeff quietly strengthened one of the most diverse portfolios of cable networks into a powerhouse powerful enough to help NBC’s sales chief Mike Pilot (No. 32) prevent massive CPM meltdown for NBC during the upfront. It’s that accomplishment that finds Gaspin in charge of the whole NBC Universal TV empire today.
Not all 50 have bosses. Bill Koenigsberg is the most notable exception; we include him because of his extraordinary ability to play at the level of the giants of the media agency business without anywhere near the size.
So let’s hear it for these programmers, sales chiefs, buyers, researchers, editors, publishers and innovators, for keeping their operations running better than the competition. It’s that much more of an accomplishment in these challenging times.
This third annual Mediaweek 50 list was a true team effort, reflecting the collective knowledge, insight and connections of senior editors Katy Bachman, Anthony Crupi, Lucia Moses and Mike Shields, along with aid from former Mediaweeker John Consoli. Together they sought out their sources, spoke to analysts and crunched audience, circulation and ad sales data to base their selections on the following criteria:
• Executives’ oversight of properties and/or departments.
• The overall impact executives have on their industries, in terms of setting new industry standards or best practices.
• The worth of media buyers' accounts and the deals they've cut, be they M&A, partnerships or sponsorships.
• The traction executives boasted in areas such as advertising revenue, ratings, audience growth and media accounts.
• Digital stats, which include the creation of new or advanced products, and the integration of new and traditional media.
It all gets synthesized by editors Michael Bürgi and Jim Cooper into what you’ll read in the coming pages. There’s no doubt some executives will disagree with our choices (particularly those from last year who didn’t make it this year). Vive la difference! We look forward to getting your feedback, which can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
#1: JEFF GASPIN, chairman, NBC Universal Entertainment
On what may well be one of the most significant mornings in Jeff Gaspin’s 25-year television career, the NBC Universal Entertainment chief is parsing the early returns for the premiere episode of The Jay Leno Show, assessing the overnights with an equanimity that’s practically idiosyncratic.
NBC’s 10 p.m. crapshoot has delivered big, drawing 18 million viewers in its opening night, and notching a 5.3 rating/14 share among the key adults 18-49 demo. Per Nielsen ratings data, Leno’s debut now ranks as NBC’s most-watched program in the time slot since last year’s Summer Olympics. If nothing else, the network’s full-bore promotional blitz seems to have done the trick.
Gaspin’s not about to pull a Doc Severinsen and blow his own horn. While pleased with the results, NBC’s TV czar offers a characteristically measured response. “Last night’s turnout points to two things,” Gaspin says. “One, Jay is very popular, no matter what time he’s on. And two, we proved that we still have the ability to aggregate a big audience.”
While Leno’s numbers immediately began falling back to earth, NBC ventured into the experiment with modest expectations, guaranteeing a 1.5 rating among the 18-49 demo. (On Sept. 15, the show drew 11.1 million viewers, with a 3.4 rating/9 share, more than double The Tonight Show’s average at 11:30 p.m. with Leno at the helm.)
Of course, before July 27 none of this was a primary concern for Gaspin, who was busy running NBCU’s successful cable networks unit (USA, SyFy, CNBC, Bravo, Oxygen, etc.) and the Telemundo brand. But once it became clear that Ben Silverman’s departure was imminent, Gaspin was kicked upstairs. He assumed the role of chairman, NBCU Television Entertainment and added oversight of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios to his heaping plate.
In other words, instead of managing half of NBCU’s $3.1 billion portfolio (in annual profits), Gaspin now is responsible for the whole shebang—broadcast, cable, studio, stations. And in his spare time he designs energy-efficient light bulbs for parent company GE.
While that last résumé item is spurious, it’s impossible to overstate just how much business has been entrusted to the soft-spoken 48-year-old. Even so, Gaspin doesn’t appear at all daunted. “Since I first got into the business, I’ve worked on the broadcast side about as much as I have on cable,” Gaspin says. “It’s not an unfamiliar place to be.”
If Leno proves to be a success, there will be fewer hours of programming time to worry about, as the nightly show accounts for roughly a quarter of NBC’s prime-time inventory. But critical reaction was less than rapturous. And while Leno’s interview with a contrite Kanye West lent the show a sense of immediacy, it’s unlikely that the over-50 set had any interest in the rapper’s mea culpa.
“With a nightly show, there’s always going to be things that are hit and miss,” Gaspin says. “But I think we saw the Jay that everyone loved at 11:30.” Gaspin adds that the taped correspondents’ clips would be developed with an eye toward ensuring a second life on Hulu. “That would go a long way toward drawing a younger audience, in the way the digital shorts helped make Saturday Night Live relevant again,” he says.
Once the audience starts settling in, Leno will retreat from the front page to the listings. In the meantime, there are literally thousands of hours of non-Leno programming to create, schedule and promote. “Besides news, the key function of TV is entertainment,” Gaspin says. “Making people laugh, providing an escape from the daily grind, that’s what we do.” That’s no small task.
2008 Rank: New
#2: MIKE SHAW, president, sales & marketing, ABC
The economy may have challenged this year’s upfront sellers, but that didn’t stop Shaw from being as aggressive as ever in holding out for a better deal from advertisers. Weeks before ABC’s upfront presentation, the broadcast networks’ most outspoken sales executive blasted back at cable sales execs’ insinuation that broadcast was overpriced. His ammo? Broadcast audiences are more upscale and deliver far more adults 18-49.
When media agencies tried to cut upfront deals at price rollbacks from last year, Shaw held out as many of his colleagues dealt. ABC eventually sold prime-time inventory at an average 1 percent lower cost per thousand rate than in ‘08, but Shaw held back significant inventory. Though it translated to reduced upfront revenue ($1.9 billion, down from $2.5 billion), Shaw said he firmly believes the held-back inventory will sell at a premium in the scatter market.
He also has been involved in parent company Disney’s new Ad Lab, which conducts different kinds of biometric research measuring eye movement, skin conductivity and heart rate to measure viewer’s emotional reactions to TV commercials and content. Why go all high-tech? To Shaw, it’s more important than ever to identify passionate viewers in an economic climate of diminished consumers spending.
2008 Rank: 9
#3: DAVID LEVY, president, sales, distribution and sports, Turner Broadcasting System
Six months before the first deals were cut in the most protracted upfront in TV history, Turner sales chief Levy laid out exactly how he thought the marketplace would shake out. When asked how his pricing would hold up in the midst of a skull-clutching recession, Levy said he expected to offer buyers slight CPM rollbacks, while hoping to siphon off a good chunk of dollars from overpriced broadcasters.
Levy ended up walking away from the table in fine fettle, having written CPMs down only 3 percent from his year-ago pricing, well ahead of the industry standard (down between 5 percent and 8 percent). And while volume was down, Levy expects to make up for the shortfall in scatter.
If this year’s upfront proves an unreliable indicator for the health of the overall TV ad market, other metrics indicate Levy is ahead of his competition. In Q2 ’09, the Turner nets increased ad revenue by 5 percent over Q2 ’08, while most other cable groups suffered mid-single-digit declines. If projections hold, TNT and TBS are on track to improve on their gross ’08 ad revenue of $1.75 billion.
Levy continues to agitate for a unified upfront, noting that the subsequent increase in available high-end inventory would actually serve to help close the CPM gap between the Big Four and top-tier cable nets like TNT, USA Network and FX. Though the recession forced the status quo, Levy said buyers will hear him loud and clear in 2010.
2008 Rank: 1
#4: RICH ROSS, president, Disney Channels Worldwide
The man in charge of creating franchise content for The Disney Channel and its properties has become something of a franchise himself. Since 2001, Ross has delivered a string of live-action hits, starting with the Hilary Duff vehicle Lizzie McGuire and extending through such kiddie faves as That’s So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Hannah Montana, The Wizards of Waverly Place and Sonny With a Chance. This consistency suggests an uncanny handle on the alchemy of kids 6-11/tween 9-14 audience that allows him to find just the right talent—Selena Gomez (Waverly Place) and Demi Lovato (Sonny…) and ride it to ratings and marketing success.
Ross manages a global kids TV business made up of 94 entertainment channels in 163 countries and 32 languages. But Disney Channel U.S., driven by its original movie franchise (77 titles and counting) and Friday-night original series block, is where Ross has planted his flag. As a reach vehicle, Disney is untouchable, standing as the No. 1 prime-time destination for kids and tweens. Nickelodeon has made forays into live-action tween series, most notably with iCarly, but Ross has proven he understands his audience better than any programmer working in TV. Last year, Disney Channel took in $1.18 billion in net revenue, per SNL Kagan—of which the lion’s share ($988.5 million) is affiliate revenue.
2008 Rank: 4
#5: JASON KILAR, CEO, Hulu.com
Hulu, the joint video venture between NBC Universal, News Corp. and now Disney, was once referred to by bloggers as “Clown Co.” They argued a company run by a bunch of huge, digitally challenged broadcasters—who are fierce rivals in the hunt for audiences—was sure to fail. And what were they thinking putting Kilar, a former Amazon.com executive—even worse, a non-TV guy!—in charge, anyhow?
No one is saying that about Kilar anymore. Hulu has single-handedly proved that long-form video content works online. And at the moment, that’s where the (still-limited) money is. Consider user-generated video giant YouTube’s recent moves to adapt to the Hulu reality by adding long-form (mostly old) network shows and movies. Or look at what’s left of former online video darling Joost.
Kilar earns praise for building a site that’s easy on the eyes and easy to use. Between traffic coming to Hulu.com and thousands of clips embedded all over the Web, Hulu now reaches over 38.1 million unique visits (per comScore, July). Ad revenue isn’t pouring in, with analysts estimating it will generate from $120 million to $180 million this year. But even as monetization comes gradually, Kilar is quickly shaping a still-young medium.
2008 Rank: Watch List
#6: BONNIE HAMMER, president, NBC Universal Cable Entertainment and Cable Studio
“Nobody—not now, not ever--knows the least goddamn thing about what is or isn’t going to work at the box office,” wrote William Goldman in Adventures in the Screen Trade. He just as easily could have been sizing up the TV industry. Bonnie Hammer apparently doesn’t have much use for Goldman’s dictum, because for the past four years, she’s been the very model of success.
This summer, USA Network averaged a garish 3.6 million viewers in prime time, 26 percent better than summer ’08—and beating No. 2 TNT by 1.14 million viewers. Moreover, the NBCU cable flagship was just as solid in major demos, as Royal Pains became the most-watched freshman show in USA history, at 3.3 million adults 25-54 and 2.9 million adults 18-49.
Meanwhile, on the heels of a summer re-branding effort, Syfy (née Sci Fi Channel) launched its biggest hit ever, as Warehouse 13 has drawn 4 million viewers weekly since July 7.
Hammer’s vision functions both as a framing device and a prospector’s sieve: In identifying certain key attributes (unambiguously defined “good guys,” plots that appeal to viewers’ aspirational leanings), she’s cultivated a formula against which she can assess all incoming scripts. Next up: White Collar, USA’s seventh series since 2006. William Goldman, meet Bonnie Hammer.
2008 Rank: 11
#7: JON NESVIG, president of sales, Fox Broadcasting Co.
With this year’s upfront negotiations stalled before they even began, some media agencies believed Fox—traditionally one of the first broadcast networks to begin doing deals—might be persuaded to take early money in exchange for large, single-digit percent CPM decreases. Knowing Fox was set to win the season's 18-49 and 18-34 demo races, Nesvig took a hard line position.
Most broadcasters followed a similar strategy. When the upfront was over, Fox sold most of its prime-time inventory at just under flat rates, and ended up closer to its revenue total of last year ($1.6 billion vs. $1.95 billion in ‘08) than its rivals.
Nesvig, who’s been with Fox almost since its inception more than 20 years ago, does not limit himself to the sales side—his longevity and status grant him input on programming.
He pushed hard to schedule an African-American-targeted show. Sure enough, Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly has slated sitcom Brothers, featuring Carl Weathers and football great Michael Strahan. Nesvig believes there’s an opportunity for a broadcast network to fill a programming gap. And with The CW having abandoned its African-American content, there is a segment of advertisers not currently being served.
2008 Rank: 3
#8: SHERYL SANDBERG, COO, Facebook
After Facebook endured several major executional and PR mishaps a few years ago (typically followed by angry user revolts), both buyers and analysts complained it needed a grown-up in charge. Founder Mark Zuckerberg is considered brilliant, but many thought Facebook needed its version of Google’s Eric Schmidt (who complements brainiac founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin). In 2008, Zuckerberg found that talent at Google, luring away vp of global online sales and operations Sandberg to be his COO.
Sandberg has taken over everything from distribution deals to ad sales. The latter still has miles to go, as eMarketer predicts just $230 million in revenue in 2009 (Facebook’s valuation is at $10 billion, based on May’s $200 million infusion from Digital Sky Technologies). On the plus side, the Facebook Connect platform—which allows users of content sites to register using their Facebook user name and login and instantly share content with their Facebook friends—has expanded the site’s footprint and clout.
Even after criticized redesigns, Facebook’s popularity appears boundless. The site is now the fifth-largest U.S. Web property, reaching 87.7 million uniques in July, per comScore. Globally, it just passed a staggering 300 million users.
2008 Rank: New
#9: RINO SCANZONI, chief investment officer, GroupM; and chairman, Mediaedge:cia
Talk to TV sales executives and they will all say—not for attribution, of course—that because of the sheer volume of ad dollars Scanzoni’s clients represent, he has perhaps the best sense of how the marketplace is going to play out. Two years ago, Scanzoni cut an early upfront mega-deal with NBC Universal, and it proved to be prophetic in what the marketplace would bear. This year, he again did some early business with NBC, while most of the other agencies couldn’t get the networks to budge.
Scanzoni marches to his own drum. And in the past few upfronts, he has chosen to be a leader in cutting deals ($4 billion in clients’ TV ad dollars helps). Scanzoni has effectively funneled that clout into a streamlined buying operation. In late 2008, he reorganized the local buying units of Mindshare, Mediaedge:cia and MediaCom into one unit—and just last month did the same with print buying. He also saved dollars by mandating each agency share data across several departments.
While Scanzoni doesn’t discuss upfront tactics—he’s largely responsible for the wall of silence surrounding this year’s upfront dealings—he clearly is outspoken about industry issues. When Nielsen (our parent) recently told its clients it will eliminate live-only program ratings in local TV markets, Scanzoni said he was strongly opposed. Nielsen hasn’t changed its position, but it no doubt is listening.
2008 Rank: 7
#10: CURT HECHT, president, VivaKi
Hecht is on the road a lot. That's because he’s officially the liaison between the VivaKi Nerve Center—the group’s central initiative to simplify and improve digital media buying—and the various participating Publicis Groupe shops across the globe (Digitas, Starcom MediaVest, ZenithOptimedia, Denuo, even new acquisition Razorfish).
Where exactly is VivaKi headed? The company says it wants to train talent, invest in tools, and make digital media buying more efficient. But there is also lots of speculation about its plans. Is it building an ad platform akin to Microsoft’s adCenter? Or an ad server such as DoubleClick? Or a buying conglomerate (which it denies)? Or even an agency-run ad network (as other networks suspect)? Regardless, the industry is watching, and is wary of VivaKi’s—and by extension, Hecht’s—clout.
So are media companies. Since it was formed, VivaKi has announced several strategic agreements, including a wide-ranging research pact with Microsoft.
Beyond VivaKi, Hecht is also one of the leading forces behind The Pool, an ambitious research project focused on determining the most effective format for Web video ads. Hecht’s team has garnered support from many of the industry’s top players, including Yahoo, Microsoft and YouTube.
2008 Rank: New
#11: TOM HARTY, president, Meredith Consumer Mags, chief revenue officer
OVERSIGHT: Responsible for $500 million in revenue, leading corporate sales efforts of mass brands including Better Homes and Gardens, and Parents. IMPACT: Harty built Meredith’s 360 cross-platform sales model that incorporates newly acquired marketing agencies and is the basis for the company’s platform-agnostic approach. TRACTION: Several titles, including Family Circle, are outperforming the industry in 2009 ad page growth. 2008 Rank: New
#12: SHARRI BERG, senior vp, news operations, Fox TV Stations
OVERSIGHT: In charge of all local news operations for Fox Television, Berg worked with NBC Local Media to pool newsgathering without sacrificing either group’s brand identity. IMPACT: Success in Philadelphia led NBC and Fox to roll out their “Local News Service” in Chicago, N.Y., L.A., D.C., and Dallas. TRACTION: Other groups joined the trend, including Scripps and Tribune, and small-market owners. Stations say they can report more news and concentrate on investigative reporting. 2008 Rank: New
#13: SUE NAEGLE, president, entertainment, HBO
OVERSIGHT: Naegle spearheads all programming development, including all originals. IMPACT: Despite the recession, HBO has kept subscribers level at about 29 million. Why? Series are clicking again, notably True Blood, the second most-watched HBO series of all time (gross average 12 million viewers). TRACTION: HBO’s not slowing down. On deck: Martin Scorsese’s Atlantic City drama Boardwalk Empire, and Treme, from The Wire’s David Simon, set against New Orleans’ parade culture. 2008 Rank: Watch List
#14: DAN MASON, president/CEO, CBS Radio
OVERSIGHT: Mason re-made the group to focus on product and re-formatted big-market stations to give advertisers a more balanced and more attractive demographic portfolio. IMPACT: CBS Radio has rolled out Top 40 stations to take on Clear Channel. The group is also launching sports brands in D.C., Boston and Baltimore. TRACTION: Ratings have reflected the new emphasis on programming results. N.Y.’s WCBS-FM is once again a top 5-rated station, as is its L.A. counterpart. A trimmed portfolio has let CBS concentrate on ratings gains in the top 5 markets. 2008 Rank: New
#15: ARIANNA HUFFINGTON, editor in chief, huffingtonpost.com
OVERSIGHT: The author and commentator co-founded HuffPo in 2005, and is a frequent contributor. IMPACT: HuffingtonPost.com is the face of the debate over Web journalism ethics, using unpaid contributors and building traffic via aggregation techniques. Users love it but it burns digital publishers, particularly newspaper sites. Its stature has grown such that even President Obama calls on HuffPo reporters during new conferences. TRACTION: As papers lose audience, HuffPo’s traffic soars, reaching 7.8 million unique users in July, per Nielsen Online. Huffington’s in talks to produce a D.C.-themed TV show for ABC. 2008 Rank: New
#16: JO ANN ROSS, president, network sales, CBS
OVERSIGHT: All ad sales for all dayparts of CBS Entertainment, as well as the CBS Interactive Group. IMPACT: Because CBS is the oldest-skewing network and older-seeking categories like pharmaceuticals and financial institutions have cut back, Ross had her work cut out this upfront. TRACTION: She and her team took in about $2 billion in prime time by touting CBS’ wider reach (No. 1 in total viewers last season) and stable schedule, not only in regular season, but during the summer as well. 2008 Rank: 47
#17: TRAUG KELLER, senior vp, ESPN Radio and ESPN Deportes
OVERSIGHT: Keller transformed several local radio station Web sites into local ESPN-branded sites. ESPN Deportes also launched six new affiliates. IMPACT: Since ESPNChicago.com launched six months ago, the site is now that city’s top sports site with 600,000 unique visitors in June who logged 1.4 million total minutes, per comScore. TRACTION: Based on the Chicago site’s success, ESPN rolled out in Boston and plans to hit Dallas this fall and N.Y. and L.A. in the first half of 2010. 2008 Rank: New
#18: DR. QI LU, president, Microsoft Online Services Group
OVERSIGHT: Responsible for all search, advertising and publishing efforts. IMPACT: The former Yahoo search exec and his team are working relentlessly on its new search product Bing. Buyers praise its innovative features (like video search), but want to see more (and more usage). Yahoo’s search share should help, once the two companies close their deal. TRACTION: Bing in August handled 1.1 billion searches, 22 percent more than July, pushing share to 10.7 percent, per Nielsen Online. 2008 Rank: New
#19: JOE ABRUZZESE, president, ad sales, Discovery Networks
OVERSIGHT: Controls all ad inventory across Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet and other channels. IMPACT: In this drawn out upfront, Abruzzese kept pace with cable’s “haves,” securing better-than-average CPM rollbacks (-3 percent). He actually boosted Discovery’s Q2 ad revenue 1 percent to $290 million. TRACTION: The best dressed man on this list moves nearly $1 billion in ad time every year, with more than a third of that total coming in via the flagship network. 2008 Rank: 27
#20: MATT WEINER, creator, AMC's Mad Men
OVERSIGHT: Executive producer, head writer and show runner. IMPACT: Secured new $9 million pact with Lionsgate TV in early ’09, leading to a fourth season for the show. A multivalenced gem, Mad Men drew 4.5 million cumulative viewers for the Aug. 16 Season 3 premiere. Along with Breaking Bad, Weiner’s creation has helped turn AMC into a destination for top-flight original drama. TRACTION: The net grew revenue 10 percent to $446 million in ’08. 2008 Rank: New
#21: ALAN COHEN, CEO, OMD USA
OVERSIGHT: Manages all domestic accounts for Omnicom’s biggest media agency. IMPACT: Cohen set OMD on fire in the United States after defecting from Initiative on the West coast in April 2008, winning Time Warner Cable ($130 million), Levi’s ($75 million) and Henkel/Dial ($60 million). The shop has mojo again, thanks to Cohen. TRACTION: Cohen revealed his emerging media geek side by launching the Ignition Factory, which develops cool new ad apps and techniques. 2008 Rank: Watch List
#22: DAVE CASSARO, president, Comcast Networks ad sales
OVERSIGHT: E!, Versus, The Golf Channel, G4, Style and PBS Kids Sprout. IMPACT: Cassaro’s lifestyle and sports nets offers laser-targeted demos, including the hard-to-reach men 18-34 set (G4) and the single most affluent TV audience (Golf, with a median income of $75K). Also nabbed new clients Cadillac, Honda and BMW for Versus. TRACTION: Comprising 43 percent of the programming group’s yearly revenue of $1.4 billion, ad sales added up to about $615 million a year ago. 2008 Rank: 15
#23: LARRY HACKETT, managing editor, People
OVERSIGHT: Runs editorial operations of mega-celebrity weekly and its various extensions. IMPACT: The weekly continues to dominate circulation charts, while spin-offs StyleWatch and People en Español grew circulation in first half 2009. At 43.6 million, People’s audience (spring 2009) is its highest ever. TRACTION: Momentum continues to build for major Time Inc. profit center under Hackett’s watch.
2008 Rank: 29
#24: LAUREN ZALAZNICK, president, NBC Universal Women and Lifestyle Entertainment Networks
OVERSIGHT: Bravo Media, Oxygen Media, iVillage and “Green is Universal” initiative. IMPACT: Zalaznick forged Women@NBCU that looks to market to women based on their purchasing behavior and media usage. Clients include Kodak, General Mills and Walmart. TRACTION: Net saw gross ad revenue skyrocket to $320 million in ‘08, up 23.8 percent from ‘07. 2008 Rank: 18
#25: MICHAEL CLINTON, executive vp, marketing officer, publishing director, Hearst Magazines
OVERSIGHT: Ad revenue of $2.6 billion for company’s 15 U.S. titles, including Cosmopolitan and Good Housekeeping. IMPACT: Clinton raised Hearst’s profile via a 12-city tour showcasing innovations, and advancing new ways for marketers to use magazines. Maintained market share for ’09. TRACTION: He’s moving publishers toward an integrated sales model, creating contextual, multi-title ads and developing cross-title, ad/edit programs. 2008 Rank: New
#26: CHRISTIAN HENDRICKS, vp, interactive media, McClatchy
OVERSIGHT: Responsible for online hub for McClatchy’s 30 newspapers, including the Miami Herald, Raleigh News & Observer and The Kansas City Star. IMPACT: Digital ad growth outpaced the industry average in first-half ’09, to account for 17.3 percent of total company ad revenue. TRACTION: Hendricks helped shift from print advertising through pacts with Yahoo, CareerBuilder and others. Participates in the AP’s mobile news network. 2008 Rank: New
#27: BILL KOENIGSBERG, president, CEO and founder, Horizon Media
OVERSIGHT: Runs the largest independent media agency in the United States. IMPACT: Under Koenigsberg, the agency has grown by $500 million in billings over the past year. Bested much larger rivals for buying duties for the $90 million Quiznos account. TRACTION: The shop boasts some $2 billion in billings, without being part of a public agency conglomerate. Answering directly to Koenigsberg, the agency has the advantage of being able to make quick, innovative decisions for clients. 2008 Rank: 14
#28: ANNA WINTOUR, editor in chief, Vogue
OVERSIGHT: Editorial for Condé Nast fashion bible Vogue and extension Teen Vogue. IMPACT: With two six-month periods of strong circulation numbers, Vogue has outperformed most of its peers. TRACTION: Wintour’s empire has been diminished by the recession (Men’s Vogue folded while the “Fashion Rocks” issue is on hiatus), but sustained circulation and popularity of The September Issue documentary speak to her continued power and influence over the fashion world. 2008 Rank: 21
#29: LOU LaTORRE, president, ad sales, Fox Cable Networks
OVERSIGHT: Directs sales strategy and operations for a roster of nets that includes FX, National Geographic Channel, Big Ten Network, 12 Fox Sports Net regional sports networks, Speed, Fuel TV, Fox Reality Channel. IMPACT: The Turner sales vet manages one of the most eclectic portfolios in cable. TRACTION: While most TV outlets struggled, LaTorre and his team thrived. In Q2 ‘09, FX posted cable’s highest ad revenue increase on a percentile basis. 2008 Rank: New
#30: GEORGE SHABABB, president, TNS Media Research
OVERSIGHT: TNS’ development of set-top box-based ratings, and launching Directview, the first national service to use set-top box data. IMPACT: With the announcement of the Coalition for Innovative Media Measurement, TNS could be the research company to watch. TRACTION: The Directview service has signed major cable networks Discovery, Scripps, along with Starcom and a dozen other clients. 2008 Rank: New
#31: JIMMY PITARO, head of Yahoo Media Group
OVERSIGHT: Leads Yahoo’s media efforts, including Yahoo News, Sports, Finance and OMG! IMPACT: Pitaro has risen through the ranks quickly and delivered. Big wins include OMG’s audience outdelivering rival TMZ, Yahoo Sports drawing the most users during the last summer Olympics and Yahoo News hanging tight with CNN.com and MSNBC.com during the Presidential election. TRACTION: Yahoo sites in July reached 156 million unique users in July, second only to Google, according to comScore. 2008 Rank: New
#32: MIKE PILOT, president, sales and marketing, NBC Universal
OVERSIGHT: Sales and marketing for NBC broadcast network and NBCU’s cable properties. IMPACT: Two years ago, he and GroupM’s Rino Scanzoni hammered out an $800 million upfront deal encompassing all NBCU properties. This year, he and GroupM did the first deal of the upfront. TRACTION: During the upfront, Pilot was able to mitigate the price decreases to less than the double-digit drops the industry expected, using the cable properties as leverage. 2008 Rank: New
#33: TIM SPENGLER, president, Initiative North America
OVERSIGHT: Spengler in August added North American stripes to his duties overseeing all U.S. business. IMPACT: After executing worldwide CEO Richard Beaven’s turnaround plan in the U.S. offices, Spengler’s been busy defending incumbent accounts ($600 million Home Depot in March) and beefing up buying and planning chops. TRACTION: New unit Amphibian straddles traditional and new media, and is overseen by Spengler hire Kris Magel, who was brought in to run all national TV buying. 2008 Rank: New
#34: CLIFF MARKS, president, sales and marketing, National Cinemedia
OVERSIGHT: A number of initiatives that have contributed to cinema’s continued growth even amidst the recession. IMPACT: Marks helped introduce integrated marketing packages that offer Web, on-screen, and mobile applications to advertisers, who are finding cinema a strong alternative to TV. TRACTION: Strong first half, with National CineMedia up 12 percent in ad revenue. 2008 Rank: New
#35: MANISH BHATIA, president, advanced digital services, Nielsen
OVERSIGHT: The development of ratings based on set-top box data. IMPACT: Positioning Nielsen (our parent company) to accelerate development of set-top box data, and, by combining the data with its other services, satisfy the need for both census-size samples and demos from panel data. TRACTION: Able to combine technology with methodology, Bhatia has quickly made Nielsen a player in set-top box ratings development. 2008 Rank: New
#36: MIKE CHICO, executive vp, sales and marketing, Screenvision
OVERSIGHT: Leads the company’s efforts to expand its cinema advertising beyond screens. IMPACT: Chico added a host of interactive digital marketing promotions into cinema lobbies, including 3-D screens and interactive kiosks. Screenvision has also added on-screen interactive text polling. TRACTION: The company has made inroads into the network TV buying community as a viable alternative. Sold ad packages to GroupM and MediaVest during the upfront. 2008 Rank: New
#37: KIERAN CLARKE, executive vp, Meredith Video Solutions
OVERSIGHT: The architect of Meredith’s syndication and video production unit. IMPACT: Clark’s signature program, Better, has proven TV groups can syndicate high quality programming. Better, which features content inspired by Meredith’s publishing brands, will be carried in more than 50 markets beginning this fall, up from 35 a year ago. TRACTION: Revenues at the company rose more than 50 percent in fiscal ’09, and more than 20 percent in fiscal Q4. 2008 Rank: New
#38: DAVE ZINCZENKO, senior vp, Rodale
OVERSIGHT: Editorial of Rodale’s Men’s Health, Women’s Health and other extensions. IMPACT: Economy rocks franchise (BestLife folded, ad pages down for other extensions), but strong circulation speaks to continued popularity of the Men’s Health brand. Zinczenko adds MH mobile app, single newsstand issue Children's Health, MH-branded books. TRACTION: MH circulation steady in first-half and Women’s Health up an explosive 30 percent. 2008 Rank: 46
#39: NANCY DUBUC, president, general manager History
OVERSIGHT: All programming, marketing and brand development at the flagship and History International, History en Español and Military History. IMPACT: Launched the network’s all-time biggest ratings drivers in Ice Road Truckers and Ax Men, while lopping three years off its median age (to 48). TRACTION: The net enjoyed its best summer ever this year, with 1.2 million total viewers in prime, ranking No. 15 of all ad-supported nets. 2008 Rank: 22
#40: BRIAN BENEDIK, president, Katz 360 sales
OVERSIGHT: Heads up the digital sales arm of Katz Media Group. IMPACT: Has expanded the Katz Online Network to include Pandora, increasing its reach from 6 million to 10 million monthly visitors. The move has made the network more competitive with rival TargetSpot’s 15 million. Advertisers now have two audio networks with significant reach. TRACTION: Internet radio is gaining ground among advertisers, as evidenced by shops such as Horizon Media that plan to buy audio across all platforms. 2008 Rank: New
#41: WALKER JACOBS, senior vp, Turner Sports & Entertainment Digital
OVERSIGHT: Ad sales for all Turner sites, as well as managed properties like PGA.com, NBA.com and Nascar.com. IMPACT: Jacobs is famously anti-ad network. But rather than ranting about them, he’s helped push Turner into developing its own formidable network of well lit, branded properties. Hasn’t killed ad networks just yet, but his team has been able to service brands looking for targeting and scale. TRACTION: The Turner Network is now collectively the 15th largest property on the Web, reaching over 51 million unique users in July, per comScore. 2008 Rank: New
#42: ROBIN STEINBERG, senior vp, director of print investment and adtivation, MediaVest USA
OVERSIGHT: Controls some $1 billion in print spending for clients including Walmart and Kraft. IMPACT: Chairs 4As’ print committee and sits on boards of Audit Bureau of Circulations and Advertising Club of New York. Pushes titles to adopt unconventional print ad formats and platforms and demonstrate accountability. TRACTION: More empowered to carry out cross-platform deals after recent MediaVest reorg. 2008 Rank: 40
#43: BRENDA WHITE, senior vp, publishing activation director, Starcom USA
OVERSIGHT: Manages an estimated $1 billion in print spending for clients including Procter & Gamble, Bank of America and Walgreens. IMPACT: Pushes accountability and integrated sales development to the top of magazines’ agenda. TRACTION: Launched A.C.E. and PROOF, proof of performance measurement tools; sits on board of Audit Bureau of Circulations. 2008 Rank: New
#44: BRYAN WIENER, president and CEO, 360i
OVERSIGHT: Leads one of the top digital agencies in the business, specializing in search. Clients range from adidas to Colgate. IMPACT: When Yahoo’s new CEO Carol Bartz wanted to reach out to the agency world to talk about the direction of the company’s search business, Wiener was on her short list. 360i is a pioneer in its embrace of social marketing. TRACTION: Recently launched a Customer Insights unit, which focuses on monitoring buzz on social networks and using search data to inform social media campaigns. 2008 Rank: 50
#45: PAUL RITTENBERG, executive vp, advertising sales, Fox News
OVERSIGHT: Fox News Channel and Fox Business News. IMPACT: News Corp.’s cable news flagship has been among the top three most-watched nets on cable for the past 13 months. Telecom, tech and travel dollars have offset domestic auto and financial services pullback. Ad revenue increased 1 percent in fiscal ’09. TRACTION: Per SNL Kagan, Fox News boosted ad revenue by a whopping 23.4 percent in calendar year ’08, netting $567.6 million. 2008 Rank: New
#46: DAVID POLTRACK, chief research officer, president, CBS Vision
OVERSIGHT: Responsible for all CBS ratings and audience research. IMPACT: Poltrack is known for looking at every piece of research that is developed. The company’s working laboratories in Las Vegas provides CBS with unmatched insight into consumer program preferences. TRACTION: CBS has maintained its top-rated position among the TV networks and claims to have held to rates during the upfront. 2008 Rank: New
#47: MICHAEL ROONEY, chief revenue officer, senior vp, Dow Jones & Co.
OVERSIGHT: Manages advertising sales across company’s Consumer Media Group; represents The Wall Street Journal, The Wall Street Journal Digital Network and Dow Jones International Marketing Services to advertisers. IMPACT: Transforming WSJ into a cross-platform sales vehicle. TRACTION: Launched brand extensions including WSJ., the newspaper’s glossy lifestyle magazine; and WSJ Mobile Reader. Initiated new ad units for WSJ for clients including Dell and Michelin. 2008 Rank: 48
#48: JIM KITE, president, Connections research and analytics, MediaVest
OVERSIGHT: In charge of all the agency’s research efforts. IMPACT: Working to add a secondary guarantee to buys based on how TV shows deliver viewers who are an advertiser’s target purchasers. TRACTION: Paving the way for a multidimensional treatment to ratings. The approach is well-suited to MediaVest’s packaged goods clients such as P&G and Coca-Cola. 2008 Rank: New
#49: LORETHA JONES, co-president, original programming, BET Networks
OVERSIGHT: All original programming, news, development, planning and acquisitions. IMPACT: BET may well be the hottest network in the Viacom stable, out-delivering corporate cousins MTV and VH1 for the first time in Q2. Summer was just as robust, thanks to BET Awards, which became a memorial for Michael Jackson, drawing 11 million viewers June 28. TRACTION: A 20-year film industry vet, Jones’ cinematic chops will be trained on the 18-49 crowd, by way of more family-friendly fare. 2008 Rank: New
#50: ADAM GERBER, CMO, Quantcast
OVERSIGHT: All marketing for Quantcast, a growing Web analytics firm. IMPACT: Quantcast was originally seen as another entrant in the Web audience race with comScore and Nielsen. But recent moves indicate that its wants to shake up digital media buying, by allowing brands to target Web users that exhibit similar behavior to their current customers. TRACTION: Quantcast claims to now directly measure over 10 million Web destinations. Prominent partners include Disney, Hulu, BBE and TiVo. 2008 Rank: New
Related: The 2008 Mediaweek 50
Related: The 2007 Mediaweek 50