In naming its first chief digital officer, Time Inc. is joining other publishing companies that are making high-level moves as they try to prepare their print brands for an increasingly mobile-driven media world.
As evp, chief digital officer, Randall Rothenberg won’t have an operational role or have direct oversight for Time Inc.’s digital business units, but he’ll have a coordinating role that will include overseeing the company’s digital strategy and building its interactive brands, which include those of Sports Illustrated, People and Time.
“Randall’s job is very senior, [and] it’s very strategic and it’s intended to help us coordinate and better leverage all the activities Time Inc. is doing in the digital space,” said Jack Griffin, CEO, to whom Rothenberg will report when he starts in January. Upon coming to Time Inc., he said, “I saw tremendous activity, great innovation, scattered in different parts of the company in different functions. This is intended to give us a better window on it.”
Rothenberg also will sit on the board of Next Issue Media, the e-reader consortium backed by Time Inc. and four other publishers. He’ll work with other tech and digital leaders at the company to set up a Center for Innovation, which will provide seed money for digital projects at Time Inc.; and establish a Center of Digital Knowledge, which will share digital learnings throughout the company.
And he’ll identify new revenue opportunities, including possible acquisitions, which Griffin said could run the gamut from companies like online shopping company StyleFeeder to digital marketing agencies.
Time Inc. won’t be alone in sniffing out digital acquisitions. Joining it in the hunt will be Condé Nast parent Advance Publications, which just appointed its first svp of strategy and corporate development to look for growth opportunities, presumably with a focus on digital.
Rothenberg has been president and CEO of the Interactive Advertising Bureau since 2007, and some said his departure would leave a gap in the online marketing industry’s fight to fend off privacy regulation.
“I don’t know anybody who’s had a better grasp and understanding of the challenges and has communicated a strategy to deal with it,” said David Payne, CEO of ShortTail Media. “Without someone like Randall at the front end fighting that fight, that’s a big loss.”
The IAB named Patrick Dolan, evp and COO; and David Doty, svp and CMO, to lead the organization as it searches for a new CEO.