- Prior to the global pandemic, the ad industry was forecasting a blockbuster 2020 with the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the US presidential election. Instead, advertisers have slashed spending, which has led to layoffs at ad agencies and media companies.
- Brands have also accelerated investments in areas that have grown during the past several months, like e-commerce and digital products.
- Transformers in media and advertising are developing new content breakthroughs for brands like Netflix, launching new direct-to-consumer brands, or organizing boycotts that hold the world’s largest platforms accountable for misinformation.
- 100 People Transforming Business is an annual list and series highlighting people across industries who are changing the way the world does business. Check out the full list for 2020.
The advertising and media worlds are on a crash course of innovation and disruption.
For the second year, Business Insider is highlighting 10 people transforming the advertising and media industries as part of a list identifying 100 people transforming the business world in North America.
We identified visionaries disrupting established businesses and pushing the industry in new directions. They’re tasked with breaking new ground — whether it’s developing the next big hit for Netflix and Spotify, building a new direct-to-consumer brand from scratch, or organizing boycotts that hold the world’s largest platforms accountable for misinformation.
These people are making sweeping decisions that influence how large companies like Facebook, Amazon, and Google make money and how people get their news and entertainment.
Industry disruption across every channel
Long gone are the days of glossy print advertisements and the “Mad Men” agencies. More than a decade after Google acquired YouTube and DoubleClick to become the world’s biggest online advertising juggernaut and Hulu launched to rival Netflix in the cord-cutting era, the advertising and media industries are grappling with monumental structural change on top of the economic downfall caused by the coronavirus.
The $226 billion US advertising industry is facing disruption and change around every corner. Marketers are under growing pressure from their CEOs to prove that advertising actually drives sales, which is causing more advertisers to cut ties with their ad agencies and handle marketing internally. Agencies are racing to offer clients data-backed expertise to keep up with consulting firms and tech giants that are eating away at their business.
Regulators and privacy-protection laws like the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 have threatened marketers’ ability to target people at exactly the right time and place. And advertisers are changing how they target their audience and giving so-called walled gardens like Facebook, Google, and Amazon more power.
Activists and critics who are making more headway than ever before in holding big tech companies responsible for monitoring speech on their platforms are holding advertisers accountable, as evidenced by July’s mass boycott of Facebook that got hundreds of big-name brands like Unilever and Starbucks on board.
With the ongoing decline of traditional TV viewing — and the $70 billion in advertising it props up — Hollywood, media outlets, and tech companies like Disney, NBCUniversal, and Amazon are pivoting harder to streaming video as viewers and ad dollars flock there.
Content creators and entrepreneurs are seizing on the rise of new platforms, changing how people shop and are entertained.
Before the coronavirus, the ad industry was forecasting a blockbuster 2020 with the Summer Olympics in Tokyo and the US presidential election. Instead, the pandemic and associated economic downfall have led advertisers to slash spending, resulting in widespread layoffs at ad agencies and media companies. The pandemic has also caused brands to speed up investments in areas that have grown during the pandemic, like e-commerce and digital products.
“In the previous landscape, those things were very long-term initiatives, but they have taken on a new relevance,” Jay Pattisall, an analyst at Forrester Research, said. “[Advertisers] are taking displaced marketing budgets and funneling them into these projects.”
Holding media and tech brands accountable
Ryan Mayward, sales director at Amazon Advertising, is helping challenge Google and Facebook’s dominance of digital advertising. As Google phases out the cookies that advertisers have long relied on to zap ads at people, Justin Schuh, engineering director for Chrome at Google, is building privacy controls into the Chrome browser that in theory don’t kill advertisers’ ability to target and measure ads while maintaining users’ privacy. His work is part of Privacy Sandbox, a Google initiative to develop privacy-friendly standards for online advertising.
“With Privacy Sandbox, we are working with the web community to develop new standards that build privacy into the core architecture of the web, while continuing to support free access to content,” Schuh said.
Rashad Robinson, executive director of civil-rights group Color of Change, helped organize a massive boycott that led brands like Unilever and Starbucks to pull campaigns from Facebook over concerns about how Facebook handles misinformation.
Eight-year-old YouTuber Ryan Kaji is turning his social-media following into a full-blown business that includes selling branded products and TV show roles on Nickelodeon and Roku.
Scott Stuber, Netflix’s VP of original films, Hulu president Kelly Campbell, and director Jordan Peele are building new content and business models based on streaming. Spotify’s Dawn Ostroff is positioning the music-streaming giant as a large podcasting player, signing high-profile deals with talent such as Michelle Obama and Joe Rogan.
Others are changing the way we buy online and highlight the shift to e-commerce that was accelerated by the pandemic. Entrepreneur Moiz Ali sidestepped traditional distribution channels and built a direct-to-consumer deodorant brand through Facebook and YouTube before selling it to Procter & Gamble. And Instagram’s VP of product Vishal Shah is changing e-commerce by building shopping features into the app.
The full list of transformers reveals more about how these outsiders, upstarts, and entrepreneurs are changing the nature of shopping, advertising, and entertainment.