Change is coming so quickly to the media business these days that it’s well nigh impossible to keep track of whose latest moves are worth following. But that’s just what Variety has endeavored to do for its second annual Digital Entertainment Impact list, timed to this week’s CES.
The goal is to throw a spotlight on the executives uniquely poised to make some noise in 2016, whether they’re undertaking a new initiative deserving of attention or stepping into a new job with a mandate for innovation. It wasn’t easy to winnow the list down to 30 men and women (31 counting one duo) — though requiring 100% turnover from last year’s list helped decide some tough choices. In short, these deserving execs (in alphabetical order) are the ones to watch.
Courtesy of Nick Bell/Jordan Matter/Bob Gruters
Mattel, Chief content officer
Since coming over from NBCUniversal in September, Balsam-Schwaber is out to prove that kids want more than just toys. She’s determined to give them a multiplatform universe for Barbie, Hot Wheels and other Mattel brands. “Children now have a different expectation when they get a toy — they want to see their play come to life in animation and digital products like games and apps,” she says. She is excited to build upon YouTube star Barbie, who has attracted nearly 1 million subscribers to her channel, and is powered by motion-capture technology. YouTube videos that feature people excitedly opening up presents — so-called “unboxing” videos — will get their own Hot Wheels twist, promises Balsam-Schwaber. “When I think about this incredible portfolio of brands, and the work we’ve done so far,” she says, “I think we’ve just tapped the surface of what content we can develop.”
Courtesy of Catherine Balsam Schwaber
Snapchat, Head of content
What was once strictly a messaging app has undergone a startling transformation in the past 12 months, with Snapchat remaking itself into a home for content companies and brands. Bell has led the way forward at both the Discover platform and Live Stories, where Snapchat’s millennial-heavy audience has probably gotten only a small taste of what’s to come. “We want to go more places, in more depth, with more perspectives, and continue to advance storytelling in a richer and more creative way,” says Bell, who joined Snapchat from News Corp. in 2014. Bell and his team are already emphasizing the achievement of better monetization, with products such as the selfies-linked Sponsored Lenses, which rolled out in late 2015. After a ton of experimentation, look for Snapchat to build on a foundation that’s just beginning to be laid, and for plenty of media businesses and marketers to do whatever they can to take part. But that means playing by a different set of rules than they’re used to on other platforms, including Snapchat’s focus on “vertical” video.
Courtesy of Nick Bell
Tribeca Shortlist, President
There’s no shortage of apps capable of streaming movies to devices big and small, but that’s exactly the problem Tribeca Shortlist aims to solve: Its library will be supplemented by “shortlisters,” a group of experts who offer their suggestions via videos. “That’s really a game-changer compared to the endless scrolling and searching most of us experience on other services,” says Bronikowski, who oversaw the company’s launch in October. With help, and library product, from partner Lionsgate, Tribeca will be an interesting test case for the appeal of a more niche approach to streaming movies. In addition to a curated roster of movies that will refresh about one-third of its offerings every month, even the shortlisters will swap in and out, bringing in recommendations from interesting names like Alec Baldwin, John Leguizamo and Martha Stewart. While Tribeca Shortlist has just a few months of operation under its belt, the new year will bring increased marketing and distribution that could make a big difference.
Courtesy of jeff bronikowski
Frank Cooper III
Buzzfeed, Chief marketing and creative officer
Who better to help Buzzfeed understand the needs of marketers eager to utilize the company’s branded-content magic than Cooper, who came over from the chief marketing post at PepsiCo in June. There’s a long line of companies from many different industries with reps standing outside his office looking to harness the power of Buzzfeed. And Cooper is focusing on making sure his firm translates across not just platforms but borders, with Brazil and Japan two key new markets. He’s already moved quickly to improve the branded creative, marketing and research divisions under his aegis. “Here, the best ideas win, and we move at the speed of culture,” Cooper says. Helping him accelerate further will be NBCUniversal, which made a sizable investment in Buzzfeed last year. Cooper believes the synergistic opportunities have “the potential to shape how social and linear platforms can work together in the future.”
Courtesy of Frank Cooper
YouTube, VP of originals
Daniels, who joined YouTube over the summer after a three-year stint as president of programming at MTV, leads the Google-owned video service’s second major original-content initiative. The site previously tried to buy big names with million-dollar advances, but failed to turn offline celebrities into online success stories. Under Daniels, YouTube is instead spending money on native talent, producing original feature films and serials with star YouTubers like PewDiePie and Toby Turner, and using them to promote its new subscription service YouTube Red. “Red provides YouTube’s ‘homegrown’ stars with the resources to dream big and explore new things,” Daniels explains. However, she also knows that getting YouTube viewers to pay won’t be easy. “YouTube Red is essentially a startup, which always comes with a myriad of unique challenges,” she admits, likening the experience to the early days of the WB, where she served as president from 1994 to 2003. “It took a while before we found our voice, and established ourselves as a trusted brand with the audience,” she recalls. At YouTube, she now hopes for the same result — and to help Red mint some green for creatives and Google alike.
Courtesy of Robert Voets
Samsung, VP and GM of immersive products & virtual reality
“The future is already here. It’s just not evenly distributed.” This famous quote from science fiction writer William Gibson is a sentiment that Nick DiCarlo, the mastermind behind Samsung’s Gear VR virtual reality headset, is living. Gear became the first such VR device to sell to consumers late last year; now others are getting ready to release their own headsets. “2016 is shaping up to be a really big year for virtual reality,” he says. Samsung’s role isn’t just selling hardware, but also releasing its new serialized VR thriller “Gone,” which debuted in December, and attracting filmmakers to the new medium through its Gear Indie filmmaking contests. But DiCarlo also knows that most consumers still have no idea what VR actually looks and feels like. “I prefer to let people discover VR organically, like maybe a friend bought one and shows it to you in their living room,” he says.
Courtesy of Nick Dicarlo
Disney/ABC Television Group, Executive VP of digital media, strategy and business development
Disney/ABC TV has long supported its line of Watch-branded apps for multiplatform viewing, but there is work ahead to best engage today’s audiences, according to Frelinghuysen, who came over from AOL in September. “Over the next year, we’ll continue to work on enhancing the user experience on those apps, building features that enable more flexible programming, curation, personalization and ease of use,” he says. He’s also planned an expansion of the WatchABC app that adds its own original series to the mix — a first for the space. The exec wants to ensure the TV industry can thrive in a divided programming landscape, and will continue to develop new programming for the Disney Junior Appisode app, which adds interactive elements to full episodes of shows. Disney ABC also will ramp up its experiments with virtual reality, following September’s launch of ABC News VR on desktop and mobile devices.
Courtesy of ABC
Facebook, U.S. group leader for entertainment, restaurants and multicultural
Don’t call Facebook just a social or mobile network, says Gruters, who oversees all marketing business for the site’s entertainment, restaurants and multicultural clients in North America. With its advancing video capabilities and comprehensive user-measurement data, Facebook wants to be the ultimate brand solution. “Consider us an extension of your marketing team,” Gruters says. Marketing clients already enjoy astounding scale on Facebook, which averaged 1.5 billion daily active users in September 2015. But Gruters feels there’s a lot more to accomplish. He wants to build on Facebook’s measurement expertise, and strive to be known more as a trusted partner than simply as a vast media platform. For Facebook entertainment clients, Gruters will be especially focusing on awareness and tune-in campaigns, as well as outreach for ticketed events. Prior to joining Facebook in 2014, Gruters helped launch Sean Combs TV/digital platform Revolt Media as its executive VP of sales and marketing.
Courtesy of Bob Gruters
Discovery Communications, Chief commercial officer
Since joining in September, Guyardo has been intent on growing revenues for Discovery through digital expansion. Some in the pay-TV distributor community fear that subscribers will leave in favor of extensive online options. But Guyardo believes the company’s just-launched TV Everywhere product, Discovery Go, can satisfy audiences while working within a pay-TV infrastructure. Since December, Discovery viewers have been able to access all nine of its networks, such as TLC and Animal Planet, on multiple digital platforms via multichannel subscription. “Digital is a powerful tool that allows us to protect the MVPD ecosystem by adding value for pay-TV customers,” Guyardo says. Through its Discovery Digital Networks, the company also offers online-only content, targeting millennials.
Courtesy of Paul Guyardo
Defy Media, Senior VP of business development
After stints at NBC Universal and Viacom, Hoang came to Defy in May, just as the company was embarking on distribution strategies that were a departure from its robust collection of owned-and-operated websites. “Joining Defy from longstanding roles in traditional media, I was most impressed with the company’s success in building a new model with an audience that now counts over 60 million consumers,” she says. Her focus on new extensions in SVOD, OTT and linear channels is putting Defy in new places like ScreenJunkies Plus, the company’s first attempt to get paying subscribers for its content. Defy is also embedding itself on new platforms like Comcast’s Watchable and Verizon’s Go90. With the recent hire of former TV execs from NBC and MTV, the company is ramping up to take its original programming to the next level, and Hoang is on board to bring these young-skewing brands to more new places than they’ve ever been.
Courtesy of Thao Hoang
Amazon Studios, Head of motion picture production
Ted Hope has produced more than 70 films over the span of his career, including critically acclaimed movies like “21 Grams” and “The Savages.” But talk to him about his work at Amazon, where he has headed feature film production for a year now, and you get the sense that he’s just getting his feet wet. “We enter 2016 with 12 films in motion and 40 projects in development with some of the greatest filmmakers working today,” he says. But don’t just expect Amazon to spend its e-commerce dollars on big names and safe bets. “Historically, the industry is prone to be risk-averse,” Hope says. “There is tremendous legacy bias within the business about how to work and with whom to work.” The exec wants to break those rules, and move the business away from what he calls a fast-food movie-making mentality. “We can truly raise the bar in terms of what’s possible creatively as well as from the business perspective,” he maintains, adding: “Change is urgently needed.”
Courtesy of Molly DeCoudreaux
As Vevo’s new chief executive, Huggers wants to do more than just upload major-label videos to YouTube. The Dutch-born tech executive aims to turn the company into a household name for music fans, much in the way MTV once used to be. Huggers took a first step in that direction a couple of months ago with the launch of an iOS music app, and he promises more to come, thanks in part to a growing developer team in San Francisco. “Over the next 12 months, we will continue to re-position Vevo as a product-driven company,” Huggers vows. Vevo also has to satisfy its major shareholders, Universal Music Group and Sony Music Entertainment, which increasingly depend on the money YouTube is paying them. It’s a delicate dance, but Huggers loves a challenge: Before joining Vevo, he tried to reinvent TV on the Internet with Intel’s OnCue initiative. That one failed, but Huggers believes that you gotta be in it to win it: “The streaming media industry is still very much in early days,” he reckons.
Courtesy of erik huggers
Awesomeness Films, President
Low-budget movies featuring digital-native talent became a cottage industry in 2015, and Awesomeness Films played a leading role in that trend. Since joining the new film division of DreamWorks Animation-owned multichannel network AwesomenessTV in June, former Lionsgate exec Kaplan has moved more aggressively than anyone else in the sector to experiment with titles, from “Smosh: The Movie” to Tyler Oakley documentary “Snervous.” With plans to release 15 movies per year, Awesomeness Films shows no signs of slowing down in 2016. “We have the flexibility to play with the model and distribute our films in a way that gets them straight to their audiences, whether it be by opening in theaters, digital downloads or through innovative partnerships with companies like YouTube,” Kaplan says. Six movies in partnership with YouTube are on the way, beginning with “Dance Camp” in the first quarter of the year.
Courtesy of Matt Kaplan
Fullscreen, Chief marketing officer
Former Oxygen president Jason Klarman started at Fullscreen only two months ago, but he’s already got the lingo down: “Passionate niches are the new mass,” he says of his new employer’s focus on targeted audiences. Fullscreen started out as a YouTube multichannel network and services company, but has had bigger aspirations ever since it was acquired by Peter Chernin’s and AT&T’s Otter Media joint-venture in 2014. This year, Fullscreen will finally reveal its next big play — a video subscription service for millennials, likely with a sharp mobile focus. Of course, Fullscreen isn’t the only company trying to get millennials to open their wallets, but the exec thinks its digital-first approach gives it an advantage over others, including TV networks vying for the same dollars. “The TV business is experiencing tectonic shifts in how, when and where content is consumed,” Klarman says. And as everyone in California knows: When the earth is shifting, it’s often the old structures that tumble first.
Courtesy of Bravo
Felix Lajeunesse and Paul Raphael
Felix and Paul Studios, Co-founders
Lajeunesse and Raphael have a huge hand in virtual reality storytelling in 2016, having struck the largest live-action deal with Facebook’s Oculus VR platform to date last June. In the coming months, the duo is set to create about a dozen VR pieces for Oculus, including one comedy and one thriller to start. Details on the Oculus projects are forthcoming. But Felix and Paul promises to evolve the already transformative VR technology by advancing beyond tie-in experiences to original content. “We are moving to original storytelling, creating native characters and stories from the ground up,” says Lajeunesse, marking a shift from the company’s recent projects complementing the films “Wild” and “Jurassic World.” “We want to really push the envelope and go to places that we haven’t gone before.” He and Raphael are committed to improving upon VR. “As directors, cinema wasn’t the right fit for us, we wanted to tell stories in a more physical and emotional way,” Lajeunesse explains.
Felix and Paul Studios, Co-founders Lajeunesse and Raphael have a huge hand in virtual reality storytelling in 2016, having struck the largest live-action deal with Facebook’s Oculus VR platform to date last June. In the coming months, the duo is set to create about a dozen VR pieces for Oculus, including one comedy and one thriller to start. Details on the Oculus projects are forthcoming. But Felix and Paul promises to evolve the already transformative VR technology by advancing beyond tie-in experiences to original content. “We are moving to original storytelling, creating native characters and stories from the ground up,” says Lajeunesse, marking a shift from the company’s recent projects complementing the films “Wild” and “Jurassic World.” “We want to really push the envelope and go to places that we haven’t gone before.” He and Raphael are committed to improving upon VR. “As directors, cinema wasn’t the right fit for us, we wanted to tell stories in a more physical and emotional way,” Lajeunesse explains.
Margaritaville Enterprises, Chief digital officer
After eight years at YouTube, where she held various content-related posts including managing relations with top talent, Lee could have had her pick of jobs at any major media company. Margaritaville, the tropical lifestyle brand inspired by Jimmy Buffett, was an unusual choice, but she saw its potential. “Leaving the safety net of Google was hard, but I relish being the entrepreneur at a storied brand, and am excited to see how I can take our company to the next level with digital and media,” says Lee, who also has the title of president of media at the company. Since making the leap in June, Lee is immersed in translating a brand more readily associated with hotel and retail extensions to the content world both here and abroad. “Since Margaritaville is a state of mind, we’re a timeless brand that transcends labels and borders,” she says. “I want to bottle that sentiment and create content on all platforms that captures our island mentality.”
Courtesy of Jordan Matter
Univision Digital, Executive VP/GM
Univision is confident it will thrive in the future, bucking the doom-and-gloom reports for the traditional network TV industry. The company’s coveted multicultural audience, combined with extensive digital partners, sets the network apart, according to Lopez. “Univision is uniquely positioned to continue to connect digitally with multicultural consumers, the growth audience for U.S. marketers,” he says. “We are also developing deep relationships with our distribution partners — Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat and Twitter — to take our content across those windows and leverage our 200 million fans and followers.” Steering all of the company’s digital business, Lopez is excited about the just-launched Univision Conecta app, which encourages live viewing by helping fans interact with shows in real time. Also in the year ahead, Lopez is aiming to enhance audience analysis, and sees measurement offering a key opportunity, especially with the rise of cross-platform viewers.
Courtesy of Gio Alma
Conde Nast Entertainment, Executive VP/GM of video
Conde Nast is an established media giant, but there is a great transformation in store for the company if Marcus has her way. The exec, who leads all video efforts for Conde Nast’s venerable brands, such as Vanity Fair, Vogue and GQ, is intent on greatly expanding the company’s three-year-old online premium programming efforts. Last year, Conde Nast produced over 2,500 videos, and has plans to produce even more in 2016. She believes that ramping up video is in line with people’s rising interest in viewing digital content. “Conde Nast Entertainment’s digital video business is very much a start-up within a more traditional media company,” Marcus says. “The fun part is that we are in the right place at the right time, working with the best brands in the world on the fastest-growing medium, digital video. The challenging part is staying true to my startup roots, and remembering to constantly push the envelope and take some risks.” Prior to joining Conde Nast in 2015, Marcus worked as CEO of Bloglovin’ and as a partner at Gotham Ventures.
Courtesy of Joy Marcus
WWE, Chief brand officer
When she’s not playing a villain in the ring at WWE events or on shows, McMahon allows her real self to peek through — as a driven executive who’s helped to create a massive multiplatform footprint for her family-operated sports entertainment company. With its online WWE Network at 1.3 million subscribers, and a social media reach of 550 million followers, WWE plans to be everywhere for optimum fan engagement. “The secret to our success is that WWE is truly an interactive brand,” she says. “Our fans are part of our show, and use their voices whether live in the arena, or via social media to express opinions and influence creative direction.” McMahon’s goals for 2016 include growing the WWE Network, international expansion in India, China and South America, and re-launching WWE.com to enhance mobile, video and social usage. She expects events such as the upcoming WrestleMania 32 in April and new WWE Network animated series “Camp WWE” to help keep fans screaming for more.
Courtesy of Stephanie McMahon
Vox Media, VP/creative director
Vox Media is getting ready to jump to the big screen, and Chad Mumm is leading the charge, building out a subsidiary called Vox Entertainment, and working on longform TV programming around brands like the Verge, SB Nation and Vox.com. “We’ve been incubating television shows in plain sight over the past year,” he says, admitting there’s some irony in being bullish about TV at a time when Vox-owned sites like the Verge and Re/code chronicle the industry’s struggles. “We’re running toward television at the precise moment when it feels like the industry naysayers are running away from it,” he allows. “Our audience watches more TV than ever before, they’re just watching it in different ways.” Getting a $200 million investment from NBCUniversal over the summer should go a long way toward realizing those TV plans in 2016, but Mumm promises that the content will still feel like Vox: “Our brands have distinct points of view that will be just as compelling on TV as on the Web,” he says.
Courtesy of James Bareham
Yahoo, Head of media
In a year where Yahoo drew more notice for executives going instead of coming, one big hire commanded attention: Former Time Inc. editor-in-chief Martha Nelson joined in August as the company’s global editor-in-chief, and was quickly promoted in October to the top content job after marketing chief Kathy Savitt exited. For all the troubles Yahoo has weathered recently, it is still home to a broad array of Web properties with a humongous audience. Nelson will be looking to build on those strengths in 2016: On the heels of Yahoo’s first global live stream of an NFL game, she’ll be driving an expansion of sports-related content; Yahoo also has the most popular sites in the finance and news categories, which means more video and mobile extensions are coming in those sectors as well. Nelson is further looking to leverage acquisitions Tumblr and Polyvore to provide tools that will enable greater content-sharing. “Running a media organization today is a breathless experience,” Nelson says. “Ultimately, despite cat videos, quality content always wins.”
Courtesy of Martha Nelson
Chances are you haven’t heard of Ellation, the San Francisco-based 160-person startup that Pickett has been leading since ending a 10-year stint at Google in 2014, where he most recently worked as VP of content at YouTube. But you may have heard of Crunchyroll, its anime-focused video service. “We have over 700,000 paying subscribers and millions of free users across more than 160 countries who love Japanese anime,” Pickett says. “Through Crunchyroll, I have seen the power of bringing passionate fans together around deep content experiences.” And with corporate backing from the Chernin Group and AT&T, Ellation now wants to go further. “This year, we look to leverage our learning, and bring something new to the market that will excite passionate fans, have even broader impact, and innovate on the business model for premium content,” he says. Once that new service launches, industry observers also may finally get a glimpse of AT&T’s plans for online video — but for now, Pickett is keeping mum on details.
Courtesy of Tom Pickett
STX Entertainment, President of digital
Starting a movie studio from scratch with the intent of spending $1 billion to make 15 movies a year might seem ambitious to some. But Savitt is the last person to shrink from the challenge of aggressive expansion, having overseen content efforts at Yahoo, which did everything from build a slate of TV series to launch 13 digital magazines under her oversight. Not all of that went according to plan, which probably played into her decision to exit the company in September for STX, where she’ll be charged with ramping up the digital portion of the business. She joins a roster of high-caliber veteran executives who aim to do business differently. “STX Entertainment is creating a new type of media company that is structured to dramatically change the way content is developed, distributed and consumed horizontally across platforms and screens,” she said.
Courtesy of Kathy Savitt
NBCUniversal, Executive VP of digital enterprises
In a marketplace awash with launches of subscription video services, Seeso may be the most interesting. Instead of creating just another stand-alone clone of one of its existing channels, Comcast has minted a new brand, priced at $4 per month, which targets the comedy space with a mix of NBCUniversal content and original series. Despite Seeso’s big-media parentage, Shapiro, who previously served as president of fledgling cable indie Pivot, designed Seeso to operate as a scrappy startup. “The idea that a company like this could disrupt its own disruptors is cool,” he says. “We took everybody by surprise, because nobody thought NBC would put so many chips on this square.” The chips are stacked high indeed, from years of late-night classics including “Saturday Night Live” and “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” to new fare from comedy faves like Amy Poehler and Dan Harmon. True to his cable roots, Shapiro is betting Seeso can be something like an OTT version of Comedy Central — a niche alternative to the streaming equivalents of broadcast, like Netflix. It’s a defiantly narrowcast approach to programming. “There’s no way the shows we’re doing in the originals realm would work on NBC,” he explains, “they are not mass enough.”
Courtesy of Evan Shapiro
Hulu, Head of experience
With all the focus on content in the streaming space, little attention is paid to the user experience in which that content resides. That’s where Smith is looking to make a difference, ensuring that Hulu offers state-of-the-art UX and seamless product design across platforms and devices, including the upcoming launch of its new virtual reality app for Samsung Gear VR. With product management experience from his years at Sonos and Microsoft, Smith came to Hulu in September, and was charged with overseeing an “experience” team assembled from four different departments. He also will be heightening the social viewing capabilities around Hulu. Says Smith, “For me, being at the ground zero of reinventing TV is a tremendous responsibility.”
Courtesy of Ben Smith
Fox Networks Group, President of digital
Sullivan agrees that audiences have been slow to adopt TV Everywhere, which allows multichannel subscribers anytime viewing across platforms, but FNG’s new digital chief has tasked himself with improving the technology. Fox was earlier than most to extensively invest in the TV Everywhere model, which also limits viewing to authenticated MVPD or Hulu Plus subscribers, and spans the network’s FoxNow, FXNow, Fox Sports Go and Fox Play apps. Sullivan is focused on enhancing these products’ user interface, content discovery and personalization capabilities. “TV Everywhere has yet to deliver on its promise, but still has huge potential,” Sullivan says. “I see a market that is uniquely rich with fantastic content, more so than ever, but it’s a fractured and frustrating experience to access that content.” Sullivan, most recently CEO of Sky Deutschland, will also be working to boost monetization of Fox’s digital businesses, and to identify opportunities around its audience data.
Courtesy of Gert Krautbauer
Trainor is committed to distinguishing Vimeo’s premium video offerings by introducing new filmmakers, and meeting audience demand for more diversity within the entertainment business. “We’re going to be highly focused on identifying and funding the amazing female creators within the Vimeo community to help solve one of the biggest challenges facing the entertainment industry at large ,” Trainor says. The company is also is casting a wide net for content, spanning original series, comedy specials, feature films and shorts. “Vimeo is showing the industry there’s a whole world of unexpected, high-quality content online that fans are willing to pay to watch,” the exec maintains. Coming in first quarter 2016 for Vimeo subscribers is “The Outs,” a six-episode second season of the gay relationship show. Also on deck shortly: “Darby Forever,” a short film written and starring “Saturday Night Live’s” Aidy Bryant.
Courtesy of Kerry Trainor
Twitter, Director of gaming partnerships
Gaming video is the largest content category online, and Twitter is aiming for a bigger piece of the pie, in September bringing in Velloso, former director of gaming content for YouTube. With his help, Twitter aims to forge relationships at all levels in the gaming community, from developers and creators to event coordinators for conventions like E3 and PAX, to eSports athletes and YouTube and Twitch streamers to create content for users. “My career at Google revolved around content partnerships,” Velloso says. “I want to work with content creators and give them the tools, or in some cases build them the tools, to allow them to produce the best content.” An estimated 1.8 billion people worldwide play video games, and the game industry is projected to make $92 billion in 2015, a number larger than film and recorded music combined. The hire is already paying dividends: In December, Twitter announced a partnership with the Game Awards.
Courtesy of Rodrigo Velloso
Verizon, Executive VP and president of product innovation and new businesses
With oversight of the recently launched go90, Walden has been signing such online creators as Maker Studios, Stylehaul, College Humor, Vice, New Form Digital and Astronauts Wanted to distribute programming for the mobile platform. Walden is excited that Go90 will expand awareness for the digital creative community. “The reduction in barriers for creators is a big piece of what’s happening in entertainment today, and we want to continue to advance that with go90,” says Walden. “We want to be a platform that gives fans access to their favorite personalities, and gives those personalities a platform to try new things.” Walden will bolster go90 with streaming music, sports and cultural-event content.
Courtesy of Marni walden
Could there be a better time to be an ad-tech company with a focus on innovating digital advertising? With the category plagued by serious problems related to viewability, fraud and blocking software, it’s going to take thinkers like Wood to set new paths for marketers to get their messages out. “The age of interruption is over,” she vows. “In 2016, we’ll help more brands make an authentic emotional connection with their audience, and we’ll continue to distribute video ads within non-invasive ad formats that practice polite page-loading, put consumers in control, and engage, not enrage, the viewer.” With a pitch like that, no wonder News Corp. acquired her 200-person company in September. Many top brands are utilizing Unruly’s Future Video Lab in New York and London, where the focus is on strategies to cut through the clutter and deliver ads that beat the ad blockers and earn consumer attention. .