2019 Event Highlights


The 4A’s Decisions 20/20 conference in Washington, D.C., gave leaders of the marketing industry a forum to explore the intersection of media, data, technology and privacy in an era of change, with the express purpose of outlining actions.

The two-day conference served as a show of strength and unity on a range of topics including brand and consumer safety, emerging technology, addressable and programmatic marketing, data, video, talent diversity and inclusion, and new and forthcoming industry regulations. Eight breakout sessions helped identify and drive actions to take: the start of a roadmap for 2019 into 2020.





Opening Remarks

4A’s EVP of Media + Data Louis Jones and President + CEO Marla Kaplowitz addressed attendees.

“We need to use this year to make key decisions about where we go as an industry,” Jones said. “You also know that our government branches will impact how we operate as digitization speeds up. That's why we’re here in Washington, D.C., where many of these changes will emanate from.”

“We are not going to agree on everything,” Jones reminded attendees, “but let's choose some turf on which we can win.”

Kaplowitz outlined the 4A’s mission for the year:

  • to champion growth in business through the power of creativity in all forms;

  • to address diversity, equity and inclusion, including new industry standards related to workplace enlightenment and areas of difference; and

  • to create a new paradigm regarding privacy and the use of data addressing consumer concerns and marketing opportunities.

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Opening Session

The New Normal? Signal vs. Noise in the Time of Chaos

“What’s new?” Michael I. Roth, CEO & Chairman of IPG, played his lead-off question for a laugh: his interviewee, NBC News’s political correspondent Kasie Hunt, was just finishing a weekend that started with the conclusion of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 300-page report investigating Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election. “2020 will be decided by a handful of undecided voters,” Hunt said. “The challenge is how much does that group of independent voters care about what was said here.”

“I used to listen to Walter Cronkite, and whatever he said was true,” Roth noted. “How does any individual sift through Fox, MSNBC, CNN, Twitter, all these different outlets?”

“News organizations all have teams of lawyers dedicated to making sure that what we’re saying is something you can believe,” Hunt said. “Those standards don’t apply to a ton of the information you pick up on social media.…That should really concern all of us.”

Remembering things will not always be this way helps you make a decision in the moment whether this is a seminal development you need to be breathless about, or whether you can say we’ve seen this before.
— Kasie Hunt, Political Correspondent, NBC News, and host, “Kasie D.C.,” MSNBC


Change is All Around Us: A Call to Arms!

In an impassioned address, Nick Brien, CEO–Americas of Dentsu Aegis Network,  gave the audience a set of “hard truths” as a rallying cry for greater alignment and collaboration.

We as an industry are too passive, too slow to change, with legacy structures, measuring outputs vs. outcomes, and with an inefficient value proposition. We’re fragmented, and we can’t be fragmented. We can be competitive but not fragmented.
— Nick Brien, CEO–Americas, Dentsu Aegis Network


Charting Our Future: Agency Leaders Talk

A panel discussion of four media agency network leaders showed consensus that they’re working in a changing environment, but not about how to respond and lead.

“We’ve lost this higher order that media is an amazing place to put a creative message,” said Jodi Robinson, President, Digitas North America. “We need to be masters in whatever those media channels are. We need to bring that together.”

Two CEOs established opposing points of view on the state of the industry. Tim Castree, CEO–North America of GroupM, said advertisers largely trust their agency partners to guide them through change. Mat Baxter, Global CEO of Initiative, disagreed, arguing that trust issues are at the root of such unwelcome developments as marketers in-housing agency capabilities. But both CEOs regard increasing agency agility as an industry priority—and all agreed on the need for better support of the 4A’s.

Erin Matts, CEO of Hearts & Science, identified two areas within easy reach where the industry can succeed: consumer education and diversity: “If we don’t have perspectives representative of the audiences we’re trying to reach, we’re doing ourselves and our end consumers a massive disservice.”

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What’s one way you commit to leading change in the next year?

A diversity initiative.
— Erin Matts, Hearts & Science
Saying no to clients who ask me to do ridiculous things in pitches.
— Mat Baxter, Initiative
Hold our clients accountable for holding us accountable for reinventing their core experiences.
— Jodi Robinson, Digitas
Real work around data portability and measurement standardization.
— Tim Castree, GroupM


 The Future of the Consumer Journey

Leading a discussion of changing technology and experiences with leaders of three major consumer platforms—Google, Twitter, and, Xandr—John Montgomery, EVP–Global Brand Safety of GroupM, noted that for both placement and consumers, context is everything.

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The consumer journey doesn’t end when you’ve bought the product.
— John Montgomery, EVP–Global Brand Safety, GroupM
We have a lot more signals than we’ve ever had, but we don’t know how to use them well yet.…Who a person is doesn’t necessarily mean context.
— Kirk McDonald, CMO, Xandr (data and analytics platform, AT&T)
Now more than ever, marketers especially need to be more thoughtful in how they engage with consumers—how thoughtful you are with placing your message.
— Stephanie Prager, Head of Global Agency Development, Twitter
There’s a lot of emphasis that distracts us from the fundamentals, that there are plenty of places to advertise. If we get that right, we can find places to speak with folks. The fundamentals aren’t so bad.
— Justin De Graaf, Head of Research & Insights, Ads Marketing at Google

Technology is a Differentiator

Philippe Krakowsky, IPG’s EVP–Chief Strategy & Talent Officer, and Chairman and CEO of IPG Mediabrands, said brands’ thoughtful use of first-party data helps them stay on the right end of the consumers’ continuum between “magic” and “creepy.”

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Just because you know more about consumers doesn’t mean you have to show that off. If I’m trying to find a good spring-break destination, and I’m served the right ad, and it’s seamless, I’m psyched.
— Amy Armstrong, U.S. CEO, Initiative
Marketing fundamentally is a team effort.…You need companies that know how to manage first-party data, how to handle something meaningful and insightful, how to create a wonderful experience.
— Chad Engelgau, Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Acxiom
If I could use lesser signals to get a better experience for a person, do I really need more?…Think about the consumer and whether they want to be blasted with a message.
— Arun Kumar, Chief Data and Marketing Technology Officer, IPG


The Independent Agency View on the Future

Adweek agency reporter Erik Oster’s conversation with three leaders of independent agencies revealed the agencies’ perceived advantages for clients: their agility, simplicity, and single-minded devotion to a brand’s business.

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It’s tempting for us to build out a specific data practice, or an analytics team that functions as its own silo. But we don’t want to build separate silos. We’re too small to create a split.
— Karlo Cordova, Director of Media & Communications Planning, Wieden+Kennedy New York
Talent is a big challenge—getting the talent we need in research and technology to keep us on a level playing field.
— Michele Selby, President, MediaWorks
Independents can say our existence is based on our clients’ successes. Our best way to succeed is to deliver on business outcomes, so we can tell a story solely aligned with our clients.
— Jeff Larson, President, Mediassociates




From Outsider to Insider: A Shift in Perspective

In a one-on-one interview, analyst Brian Wieser ("the most quoted man in advertising," per Ad Age) told The Wall Street Journal advertising editor Suzanne Vranica that agencies need to do a better job explaining their value to the brands they work with.

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The aggressive pursuit of cheapness at any cost is destructive for everyone.
— Brian Wieser, Global President, Business Intelligence, GroupM


Charting Disruption and Winning Hearts: Audi Of America

With the rise of electric, hybrid, and self-driving vehicles, Audi of America’s adaptive brand strategy has transformed it from luxury-brand runner-up to category leader.

We in the automotive industry are certainly conscious of the things that are disrupting our marketplace. And being smarter about the things we’re doing with the support of companies that are doing the same is good to see.
— Loren Angelo, VP–Marketing, Audi of America


U.S. Media 2018 Year in Review

Olivier Gauthier, Founder & CEO of COMvergence Worldwide, discussed the vital statistics of marketing and media in 2018. Find Gauthier’s full report here.

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U.S. Media by the Numbers

  • $12 billion U.S. media spending, 2018

  • $35 billion media business could be in review over the next two years

  • 65 agency acquisitions over the past three years

    • ⅔ of acquisitions: digital and tech companies

    • ⅓ of acquisitions: creative agencies


Marketers on How Collaboration Gets Results

Brands’ trusted partnerships and clear collaboration with their agencies are key to beating the heat of a changing, complex business, panelists from Bayer, GSK and Mars revealed in a panel moderated by Tom Denford, ID Comms’s CEO for North America.

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The relationship is like looking after a bonsai tree. You have to make sure it’s well-rooted and gets enough water and light—and you trim it so it’s more relevant to its consumer and commercial environment.
— Rob Rakowitz, Global Media Head, Mars Incorporated

Read Rob Rakowitz related article: Futureproofing Media Client-Agency Partnerships

The secret to good collaboration is transparency and partnership. What I need from an agency partner might be different in 2019 versus 2020. That may require some retooling and hard conversations—and these conversations should be OK.
— Scott Grenz, Vice President, Global Head of Media, GSK Consumer Healthcare
Because media is one of the largest investment areas for a company, there’s a lot of pressure to maneuver marketing spending. It’s a challenge to find ways to be proactive instead of reactive.
— Christina Meringolo, VP of Consumer Engagement, Bayer U.S. Consumer Health


Diversity & Inclusion: Myth vs. Reality

While the marketing industry continually strives to attract talent that represents diverse backgrounds at the entry level, retaining that talent long enough to become industry leaders remains an ongoing challenge, as experts revealed in a candid panel led by 4A’s EVP of Talent Engagement & Inclusion, Simon Fenwick.

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If we don’t come from the same place, of course we’re different, but you need a deeper layer of a person’s feelings and experiences to know you’re getting the most dynamic range you can get. ‘Diversity of thought’ is just an excuse not to change the status quo.
— Rosa Nunez, SVP, Senior Director, Diversity & Inclusion, Burson Cohn & Wolf
Often with diversity and inclusion efforts, there’s a real ebb and flow, a stop and start, that makes it feel disingenuous, like some sort of bolted-on extracurricular activity, as opposed to something you do every day.
— CP McBee, Senior Sales Director, Microsoft
I have unconscious and conscious biases just as you do. Let’s get them all on the table. Conversations are only difficult when you’re not having them.
— Lukeisha Paul, Head of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, GroupM


The Strategic Data Management Imperative

Many agencies and advertisers working with strategic, flexible data management systems are working to confront the challenge of coordinating tools and systems for optimal intelligence, experts revealed in a panel moderated by DataXu’s Chief Revenue Officer Ed Montes.

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The more first-party data you have to build a data asset for yourself, the more it’s going to help you. For clients that don’t have first-party data, third-party data will get harder and harder to aggregate and use.
— Laura McElhinney, Chief Data Officer, Horizon Media
I keep thinking about what ‘great’ looks like in our marketplace: it’s when the value exchange is clear, and the consumer understands what they’re getting in return for their data.
— Matt Sweeney, CEO, Xaxis North America
With data, the point is not scalability. The point is, what do we know about our consumers, and how do we use that to make better experiences for our customers?
— Julie Fleischer, SVP, Head of Customer Intelligence, WW
Humans aren’t binary. We need to take an anthropologist’s approach to get a human understanding of what we can bring to them, tailored to their needs, rather than just ‘I need you to take a test drive and convert.’
— Louisa Wong, COO, Carat US
Some marketers are doing incredible things with data. Others are asking us to help them figure it out.…We have to continually push our data partners to do new things to unlock creativity.
— Adam Gitlin, President, Annalect


Brand And Consumer Safety—The Journey Forward

A year after forming the Advertisers’ Protection Bureau, the 4A’s is partnering with the Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG) and Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) Tech Lab to release a Brand Safety Playbook to ensure marketing messages appear with appropriate content in appropriate contexts, free of piracy, fraud, malware, violence, fake news, and other hazards. (Listen to a podcast of the discussion on the “dark web”).

Listen to the podcast of the discussion on the “dark web” (to save right or control click on the link and select ‘save link’).
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Cybercriminals are entrepreneurs who are trying to find crimes that are the most profitable and scalable. They buy tools of the trade on the black market. And ad fraud is one of the most scalable cybercrimes you can run on the backs of a million computers you control.
— Michael Tiffany, Co-Founder & President, White Ops
Across Europe, working through TAG-certified channels, we’ve seen a 95% reduction in fraud. We’re winning this war.
— Mike Zaneis, President & CEO, Trustworthy Accountability Group (TAG)
A lot of things go wrong when an ad makes its way to a pirate site. It looks legal. When sites get these ads, they get money, and they can invest in new technologies to get into the system more.
— Abrahim Farraj, Manager, Creative Content Protection, NBCUniversal


Video 20/20

The rise in individuals consuming video on multiple platforms simultaneously is leading sellers, buyers and media companies to reassess the ratings and measurement of a rapidly changing medium. Sean Cunningham, CEO and President of the Video Advertising Bureau, moderated this panel discussion.

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Media companies today do a good job of counting up impression. The problem is that we have multiple sources, and we’re trying to figure out how to bring it all together.
— Dave Morris, Executive Vice President, Advanced Advertising and Client Partnerships CBS Corp.
We grew up when prime-time TV had a certain premium look and feel, and that experience has changed. Prime-time is now personal, driven by people’s passions. That creates a different consumer and marketing experience.
— Tara Walpert-Levy, VP, Agency and Brand Solutions, Google
Linear and digital are pieces of the puzzle, and we have to put that puzzle together to get a message to the right customer. Until then, there’s a tremendous amount of overlap. We’re hitting consumers more than we need.
— Lyle Schwartz, President of Investment, North America, GroupM
Where consumers get their content is important, but are Hulu, AppleTV+, and DirecTV TV or digital? The nomenclature is of less and less value.
— Rick Welday, President, Xandr Media

New Congress, New FTC, New Priorities  | Regulation Could Rock Our World

With the passage of the California Consumer Privacy Act, the threat of 50 U.S. state laws on consumer data privacy could bring chaos to the advertising media industry. The Federal Trade Commission’s Noah Joshua Phillips discussed the implications with Stuart Ingis, Chairman of Venable LLP. Their fireside chat preceded a panel discussion moderated by 4A’s SVP–Government Relations, Alison Pepper.

I want Congress to make the decision [about data privacy] through a democratic process of what we want and don’t want. I want to inform that decision and capture as many benefits of data-sharing as we see. But I don’t think it’s my role as an FTC commissioner to make the fundamental democratic choices about which harms we need to address.
— Noah Joshua Phillips, Commissioner, U.S. Federal Trade Commission
A patchwork of laws won’t work in a digitally connected world. If you’re flying from JFK to SFO, the way you get content and do business could be different after a 4½-hour flight.
— Michael Signorelli, Partner, Venable LLP
Every time a state passes a law, their members of Congress become very protective of that law. It’s guaranteed that lawmakers in Washington State will say ‘Don’t tamp our bill—make us the floor.’ As California has.
— Christian Merida, VP, Federal Affairs, American Express
We need to remember the consumer: what upsets them most? As long as we have wiggle room to let these laws evolve, we’re in a good place. Think about the business and the consumers, and find middle ground, and we’ll all be better for it.
— Rachel Glasser, Global Chief Privacy Officer, Wunderman


Measurement 20/20


A comprehensive and immersive gathering of research experts from media agencies and platforms explored issues of measurement standardization who offered action plans to create cross-media standards on variables including brand safety and invalid traffic measurement and fraud filtration.

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The 3MS project began 10 years ago to make measurement in digital media more comparable to other media, and to filter out invalid traffic and fraud. Now we’re establishing a cross-media standard with 175 companies and more than 300 people in our working group.
— George Ivie, CEO and Executive Director, Media Rating Council Co-Author, 3MS & Beyond
We’ve never had more great data to work with or better analytic capabilities. But we’re at a crossroads, because linear business is big but getting less and less relevant every day, and the world is going from a transparent market to less transparent.
— Howard Shimmel, President, Janus Strategy & Insights
We’ve been making Hulu as measurable as possible, but we’re not a part of traditional planning tools that let an advertiser say, ‘If I take this money and put it here, this is what I’ll get.’ We’re working hard to make that happen.
— Julie DeTraglia, Vice President & Head of Research, Hulu
We need data labeling to be done the way food is labeled. We need to go further than the ingredients and see how all the data is put together.
— David Ernst, VP, Advanced Advertising Solutions, A+E Networks
We need to think about media measurement, audience measurement, in the entire ecosystem. It’s important that everyone who wants to effect change in measurement needs to embrace this
— Peter Sedlarcik, Chief Intelligence Officer, Havas
In some places there’s excellent coordination, and in others a huge gap, because there hasn’t been a reassessment of how to approach the process.
— Jonathan Steuer, Chief Research Officer,Omnicom Media Group
We don’t have a lot of rigor today in our processes from planning to measurement. There’s no connection. We plan against reach, we measure against sales completion, but we’re not sure how these connect.
— Karima Zmerli, Ph.D., Chief Data Sciences Officer, Wavemaker
A couple years ago, we heard the industry doesn’t have a requirements document, so we wrote up the first draft of a Measurement Manifesto: a constantly evolving document with five goals and 10 action items.
— Jane Clarke, CEO & Managing Director, CIMM
Consumers are outpacing TV as an industry, and we need to take control.…A future utopia could include a vibrant, ad-supported premium video ecosystem, personalized experiences, and TV as a frictionless platform.
— David Cohen, President, North America, Magna Global
Attribution goes with data, data privacy, accountability, and measurement. We’re focused on developing systems that help people optimize in mid-campaign.
— Alice Sylvester, Co-Founder, Sequent Partners Co-Author, The Quest for Total Advertising Value in Attribution
The life-support requirements for attribution are the baseline volumes, direct and indirect effects, lingering effects, diminishing returns, halos for related brands. We’re hoping to have the whole industry rally around these requirements.
— Jim Spaeth, Co-Founder, Sequent Partners Co-Author, The Quest for Total Advertising Value in Attribution
Speak in plain—effing—English. Please. Nobody here is always speaking the same language. If we could just talk more simply, we could get a lot more done.
— Sarah Hofstetter, President, Comscore
The average TV audience 20 years ago was 9 million. A decade ago, it was 7 million. Now it’s 4.4 million. But consumers take in more media across devices, and they consume 10½ hours of media a day.
— Kelly Abcarian, General Manager, Video Advertising Group, Nielsen

2019 Media Predictions

Steve Passwaiter, GM/VP–Political, Kantar Media, Campaign Media Analysis Group

  1. Amazon takes on advertising—and advertisers. Amazon becomes a fast mover in digital advertising across all platforms, using them to promote its own products.

  2. Back to the big screen. 96% of U.S. consumers are watching TV on TVs, and 60% are streaming content on TVs. Consumers are mixing traditional media and digital media.

  3. The video saga moves on. Brands will use video ads that develop personalities distinct from the brand identity in TV advertising.

  4. AI and automation drive media targeting. Marketing automation will use attitudinal and behavioral data powered by AI.

  5. No one can stay out of politics. Political advertising will dominate the airwaves in 2020, particularly in battleground states.

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Breakout Sessions


To help attendees build practical strategies for an unpredictable business environment, Decisions 20/20’s eight breakout sessions yielded insights and actions to apply immediately within organizations and throughout the industry.

Details on each breakout session appear throughout this report.


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Brand Safety

As the 4A’s and partners prepare to launch the industry’s brand-safety playbook, brands are asking not only how to avoid questionable content but why this content needs to be on ad platforms at all. An advertising Bill of Rights could let brands know in advance where their ads will appear

Host and Moderator: Louis Jones, EVP Media & Data, 4A’s


  • Dennis Buchheim, SVP & General Manager, IAB Tech Lab

  • Bonnie Niederstrasser, Director, Policy and Programs, Trustworthy Accountability Group

  • Brian Quinn, President, OpenSlate

4A’s Advertiser Protection Bureau

  • Joe Barone, Managing Partner, Brand Safety Americas, GroupM

  • Emily Hollerbach, VP AdTech, Media Assembly

  • Sargi Mann, EVP, Head of Digital Strategy & Investments, Havas

  • David Murnick, EVP Digital Operations & Technology Partnerships, Dentsu Aegis

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Modernization and Transformation Using Blockchain and Emerging Technology

Blockchain’s applications are still emerging but could help marketing businesses create frictionless networks of trust and transparency, streamline processes, measure with accuracy, and combat fraud.

Moderator: Aleksandar Zelenovic, Strategy and Practice Lead Publicis Sapient


  • Chad Andrews, Global Solutions Leader for Advertising, IBM

  • Christiana Cacciapuoti, CEO, AdLedger

  • Alanna Gombert, CEO, Digital Asset Trade Association



Technology Empowers: AR, VR & Voice

Best practices to adopt these emerging areas of creativity emphasize the imperative for spatial computing, and the inevitability of AR and VR adoption and 3D immersive storytelling.

Moderator: Debby Ruth, SVP, Global Media & Entertainment, Frank N. Magid Associates


  • Craig Evans, CEO, Digital Nation Entertainment

  • Gordon Meyer, Innovation & Marketing Consultant

  • Doug Robinson, CEO, Fresh Digital 

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Addressable TV

The marketing industry needs to support open standards, and sellers need to consider what’s best not just for their organization but for the industry at large.

Moderator: Jack Myers, Chairman & Founder, Media Village


  • Charles Cantu, Founder, Reset Digital

  • Marion Hargett, SVP, Agency Strategy, NCC Media

  • TS Kelly, SVP Research, Alphonso

  • John Piccone, President & CRO, Simulmedia

  • Michael Bologna, President, CADENT

  • Andrew Ward, President, NCC Media 



GDPR and Beyond: Strategies for Safer Data Management & Privacy

As a patchwork of proposed state-level legislation threatens to scramble privacy standards, data usage strategies and campaign dynamics, agencies must prepare to pivot their consent mechanisms as enforcement decisions evolve.

European regulators haven’t yet settled on what will constitute legal consent under the GDPR.

Agencies should be prepared to pivot their consent mechanisms as enforcement decisions evolve.

Moderator: Jason Koye, Omnicom Media Group


  • Jordan Abbott, Chief Data Ethics Officer, Acxiom

  • Ashok Chandra, Senior Partner of Privacy, GroupM

  • Tanya Forsheit, Partner and Chair, Privacy & Data Security, Frankfurt Kurnit

  • Jessica B. Lee, Partner, Co-Chair, Privacy, Security & Data Innovations, Loeb & Loeb 



The Future of Automation: A First Look

The initial qualitative findings of a “Future of Automation” research show data quality, and the consistency and speed of the exchange of information, delivers automation.

Click here to take the Future of Automation survey.

The Ten Friction Points

  1. Mutual trust

  2. Data quality

  3. Interoperability

  4. Identity resolution

  5. Tactical talent costs

  6. Brand safety and fraud

  7. High-level technology evaluations

  8. Higher order rules for automation

  9. Strategic talent costs

  10. Transparency in walled gardens


  • Louis Jones, EVP Media & Data, 4A’s

  • Rob Rasko, Founder & CEO, The 614 Group 

  • Shawn Riegsecker, Founder & CEO, Centro



The Measurement Solution: Agencies’ Perspective

A new 4A’s study reveals that marketing needs to prioritize agreeing on what currencies matter, how to have more insight to driving outcomes, and improving identity to correct unduplicated reach.

Moderator: Terry Cohen, SVP, Media & Data, 4A's


  • Claire Browne, VP, Director of Media Research, RPA

  • Krista Lang, SVP, Executive Director of Media, 22squared

  • George Musi, EVP, Head of Data, Analytics & Insight, BLUE 449

  • Peter Sedlarcik, Chief Intelligence Officer, Havas Media Group 


Applications for Blockchain in Advertising and Media

Blockchain holds promise for improving trust through greater media effectiveness, reducing wasted spend, combating ad fraud, and streamlining supply chains—but the industry must introduce blockchain with careful deliberation.

Moderator: Chick Foxgrover, EVP, Creative Technology & Innovation, 4A’s


  • Richard Bush, President, NYIAX

  • Sam Goldberg, President and Co-Founder, Lucidity

  • Gabe Greenberg, Consultant, MadHive/GABBCON

  • LuRae Lumpkin, CEO & Co-Founder, Blockchain4Media 


Photos by Margarita Corporan