These Mobile Innovators Are Shaping the Future of Advertising

15 cutting-edge leaders in brand marketing, agencies and tech

Headshot of Christopher Heine

The mobile marketing landscape has grown more heavily populated with important players, many of whom quietly operate behind the scenes while some of their more brand-centric industry peers enjoy a greater share of the limelight. Adweek beat the bushes in search of the best and brightest minds behind great mobile campaigns that are transforming the marketing world. They are:

Cameron Clayton
CEO and GM, The Weather Co., an IBM Business
Age: 40
Fast fact: 1 billion weekly mobile views

Few mobile players are doing more than Cameron Clayton to send relevant offers to smartphone users as they drive down the street and mosey along the sidewalk. Clayton and his team employ proprietary, data-rich systems WeatherFX and JourneyFX to help marketers like Toyota, Anheuser-Busch (Goose Island brand) and State Farm find consumers when and where they need products and services based on 20 different weather variables and the places they visit. Weather’s digital users typically check their local forecast two to five times a day, while 80 percent opt in to share their location. So if there’s a blizzard coming and a new homeowner just left his or her local Home Depot …

The technology “allows us to reach consumers before the bad weather reaches them,” notes Ed Gold, advertising director at State Farm.

Clayton’s data gets used to serve ads via Weather’s popular app, and across the general mobile landscape. Here’s what’s next on his agenda: combining WeatherFX and JourneyFX with IBM Watson to create the ultimate ad-targeting machine. Sound ambitious? Colleagues say that Clayton has a way of making complicated projects doable.

“Effective leaders are able to clearly articulate a vision, point people in the right direction and inspire them to do their best as they strive to reach those goals,” says Domenic Venuto, gm of the consumer division at The Weather Co. “Cameron does all of these things seemingly effortlessly.”

Fidji Simo
Director of Product, Facebook
Age: 31
Fast fact: 1.74 billion mobile users

If Simo wrote a book, any modern marketer would be a fool not to read it. When she started at Facebook in 2011, her employer had no mobile advertising game to speak of. Now the digital media giant is bringing in a mind-boggling amount of mobile revenue every quarter, accruing $7.3 billion in Q4 of last year alone.
That kind of figure forever changed how Wall Street looked at investing in social startups. To wit, Snap Inc.—now planning its IPO on the exploding popularity of Snapchat—ought to personally shake Simo’s hand for laying the groundwork.

“From the moment she started at Facebook, Fidji’s brilliance was apparent to all who worked with her,” says Chris Cox, chief product officer at the Menlo Park, Calif.-based giant. “In the six years since, she’s led teams working on some of our most important challenges, helping connect people to advertisers and to publishers.”

Indeed, Simo has made the mobile newsfeed a moneymaking story that’s almost hard to believe. In Q4 2013, Facebook broke the $1 billion barrier in mobile sales for the first time. With the company’s mobile video ads operation exploding, can $10 billion every three months be very far off?

The bigger question might be: Does Simo have a literary agent lined up yet?

Adam Brotman
Evp, Global Retail Operations and Partner Digital Engagement, Starbucks
Age: 47
Fast fact: $21.3 billion in net revenue in 2016

Thanks to Brotman’s expertly orchestrated mobile ad campaigns, Starbucks has become a digital retail front-runner—27 percent of transactions happen via its smartphone app. What his team does after the ad might be most interesting. The app personalizes offers while notifying the consumer of the title and artist of the song being played inside a store. It ups the ante by building a Siri-like virtual assistant into the app. That feature, dubbed My Starbucks Barista, lets customers place an order by tapping a button and talking to a virtual barista. The bot then pings the order to a nearby store, where his or her drink is whipped up. Better than almost any other marketer, Brotman “understands the importance of the mobile micro-moment,” says consultant David Deal.

Harry Kargman
CEO, Kargo
Age: 42
Fast fact: 1.57 billion monthly ads served

This story first appeared in the Feb. 20, 2017, issue of Adweek magazine. Click here to subscribe.

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.