Adweek’s Inaugural Power List Reflects Disruption in the Ad Industry

And just wait for the millennials to take charge

Headshot of James Cooper

James Cooper Photo: Alfred Maskeroni

Like every business Adweek covers, the notion of power, where it resides and how it's expressed, has been disrupted.

Once closely held in a far country requiring white-shoe credentials for admittance—think Time Inc., the "Big Three" broadcast networks, IBM, General Motors, McCann, Vogue—power has been fully democratized by technology: The best idea, no matter where it comes from, wins.

That's certainly the case with our top choice. Google's Larry Page turned a brilliant math equation into a globally ubiquitous utility and abruptly changed the definition of advertising almost overnight.

Most on this list have fully grasped—some with the serenity that comes with clear vision—that their content, marketing, products or services need to be as flexible and disaggregated as the mobile, on-demand, social and over-the-top platforms consumers have so aggressively embraced.

Adweek's inaugural Power List, which was painstakingly researched and written by longtime Adweek contributor David Gianatasio and edited by executive editor Tony Case, is a ranking of the 100 most influential, innovative and effective leaders controlling media, marketing and technology.

To assemble this list, we considered the profile and recent results of corporate titans, taking into account such criteria as the value of company assets, revenue and revenue growth, consumer reach and affinity, market performance, standing among rivals, number of employees overseen, key acquisitions and partnerships, and industry accolades and media buzz.

Agency chieftains, tech titans, media bigwigs and the CEOs of top brand marketers populate the universe we at Adweek cover day to day—and the Power List represents the most powerful among these individuals.

As with any ranked list, we are sure to draw debate, criticism and ire. But just as this months-long project forced us to step back and consider who is having a material impact on the industry's rapidly spinning Game of Thrones-like gyroscope, we hope this is food for future thought.

With the finale of Mad Men behind us and the first Periscope star to come, the business is at a fascinating inflection point where passion and programmatic are colliding.

For my money, real power will be won and held by those who simultaneously grasp romantic and practical creativity as twin cornerstones of invention, true firsts that will revolutionize media and change the world in the process.

And then, there is the power of youth. In his Voice column, 20-something Daniel Haack, director of U.S. marketing at MediaCom, describes six generational traits millennials just might want to work on as they advance their careers.

I found his column to be a fitting counterbalance to our Power List. Once millennials become self-aware, well, the worm will have truly turned.

@jcoopernyc James Cooper is editorial director of Adweek.