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Ad Age Ad Lib

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Ad Lib features unscripted conversations with some of the biggest personalities in media and marketing, speaking off the cuff with Ad Age editor Brian Braiker. The goal here is to do away with spin and jargon, and get to know some of the more influential and innovative people in this space — and understand the humans behind the titles.

Ad Lib features unscripted conversations with some of the biggest personalities in media and marketing, speaking off the cuff with Ad Age editor Brian Braiker. The goal here is to do away with spin and jargon, and get to know some of the more influential and innovative people in this space — and understand the humans behind the titles.
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Ad Lib features unscripted conversations with some of the biggest personalities in media and marketing, speaking off the cuff with Ad Age editor Brian Braiker. The goal here is to do away with spin and jargon, and get to know some of the more influential and innovative people in this space — and understand the humans behind the titles.




Keith Grossman, Bloomberg Media global chief revenue officer

Bloomberg Media has been experimenting across the board lately — from its consultancy play to an aggressive over-the-top streaming strategy to TicToc, a video partnership with Twitter. Joining us on the podcast is chief global revenue officer Keith Grossman, who breaks down why these are both the best of times and the worst of times to be in digital media -- and why there's never been a better moment to be a media brand that knows what it stands for.


Meg Goldthwaite, CMO, NPR

Twenty-one percent of the population now owns at least one smart speaker. A full 14 million people in the U.S. got their first smart speaker device in 2018 — meaning voice as a topic of fascination is not going away any time soon. From the floor of the Las Vegas Convention center this week, NPR CMO Meg Goldthwaite joins us to discuss the revolution in voice, and what it means for marketers and consumers alike.


Shannon Simpson Jones and Yadira Harrison, co-founders, Verb

Launched in January, Verb is a hybrid shop that claims to have a new approach to the agency space. Verb boasts both traditional agency chops and consultancy offerings for both brands and other agencies — with a specialty in experiential marketing. It is the brain child of Shannon Simpson Jones and Yadira Harrison, both former VPs of the Civic Entertainment Group. We discuss the challenges and opportunities in the experiential, and the gap between brand expectations and reality. Both...


Ben Wiener, CEO, Wongdoody

The Seattle-based creative shop Wongdoody (yes, that’s its real name) celebrated its 25th anniversary this year — and as it did so, it was acquired by Indian tech giant Infosys, once known for offshoring jobs. It is, says CEO Ben Wiener, a great time for an agency like Wongdoody. As the big advertising holding companies continue to fumble, Wongdoody is seeing double digit growth, he says. It is winning new business and expanding globally. A Wongdoody lifer, Wiener started at the company as...


Edward Felsenthal, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Time magazine

Days after Salesforce co-founder Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne closed on their purchase of Time, the new owners gave its editor, Edward Felsenthal, the additional title of CEO. Felsenthal joins Ad Lib to discuss his role in the negotiation process with the Benioffs – and where he plans to take things under the new ownership. Time is on something of a roll: it won an Emmy in 2017, a National Magazine Award in 2018 and will see nearly 2 billion video streams this year. And, despite declining...


Julio Bruno, CEO of Time Out Group

In 2015, when Julio Bruno took over as the chief executive at Time Out, it was taking on heavy losses. An executive who had held senior positions at Diageo and TripAdvisor, Bruno saw an opportunity. Now, three years on, as Time Out celebrates its 50th anniversary, Bruno has not only begun to turn the publisher around and make it digitally relevant, but he’s taken it public, leaned into an ecommerce strategy and is building a chain of physical market places.


Karina Wilsher, Anomaly’s next global CEO

After 14 years at Anomaly, founding partner Karina Wilsher will be assuming the global CEO title at the agency. Currently the global COO, Wilsher has long been groomed for the new role and will assume the chief executive position in January. True to its name, Anomaly is an outlier in its space, a non-traditional agency that was founded with a commitment to intellectual property and creating products. Wilsher joins me today to discuss the news and what it means for her and for Anomaly. We...


Aaron Walton, co-founder, Walton Isaacson

The co-founder of 14-year-old agency Walton Isaacson first went to work for the brand side in 1983 — Pepsi specifically. As it happens Pepsi at the time was working with a singer by the name of Michael Jackson. Walton’s job would take him on tour with Jackson. Now, some 35 years after that first incredible gig, Walton is not only still in the business of telling brand stories, he’s still at culture’s cutting edge. It was Walton Isaacson client Lexus that teamed up with Marvel for the Black...


Lizzie Widhelm, Pandora svp of ad innovation

In September, satellite radio company Sirius XM offered to plunk down $3.5 billion to acquire streaming music service Pandora. Joining us today is Pandora svp of ad innovation Lizzie Widhelm to break down what the Sirius offer means to Pandora — and vice versa. Sirius has more than 36 million subscribers in North America, Pandora has 70 million monthly listeners — fewer than 6 million of whom pay for the service. We discuss the state of advertising in the streaming space, the future of audio...


Rich Antoniello, CEO of Complex Media

This weekend some 60,000 sneakerheads, hip hop aficionados, jocks, gamers, design nerds and foodies will descend on Long Beach, California, for the fourth annual ComplexCon. The consumer-facing pop culture bonanza is the physical expression of media brand Complex, which CEO Rich Antoniello has been driving for the past 17 years. Rich — who is outspoken on just about any topic you can throw at him — joins us today for a wide-ranging conversation covering everything from media’s pivot to...


Troy Ruhanen, president and CEO, TBWA Worldwide

An Aussie giant of a former Rugby player, Troy Ruhanen joined TBWA as president and CEO four years ago. Today he joins us on the Ad Lib podcast to spill some tea on his competitors — including WPP and Publicis — and give us some insight into clients including Apple, McDonald’s and Nissan. We discuss what their pain points are, what his agency’s big wins over the last four years have been, and growing up blue collar in Brisbane.


Frances Webster, co-founder and CEO, Walrus

Launched in 2005 in the ashes of Mad Dogs and Englishmen, Walrus is a fiercely independent shop that’s worked with such clients as Amazon, HBO, and Staples. Frances Webster — who co-founded Walrus with her husband, Chief Creative Officer Deacon Webster — has been outspoken about the need to train more women for agency leadership roles. She discusses the decision to offer media and buying services, reconciling programmatic with creative, and her clients’ biggest pain points as marketers gear...


Andrew McKechnie, chief creative officer at Verizon

For the past 18 months, Andrew McKechnie has been building Verizon’s in-house agency, 140. It’s no easy task. Networks, unlike the smartphones that run on them, are tough to make especially sexy. Still, he comes by the gig honestly. McKechnie had most recently served as global group creative director at Apple, after holding creative director titles at agencies including DDB, Y&R and JWT. Andrew joins us to discuss the pros and cons of moving from adland to the brand side, the tension between...


Jon Steinberg, Cheddar founder

After a five-year stint at BuzzFeed and a brief run as the CEO of the last thing you would probably think to do is start a TV network. From scratch. Yet that’s precisely what Jon Steinberg did. The former President and COO of BuzzFeed launched Cheddar Inc in 2016, a new media company with the initial goal of becoming the CNBC for millennials. Two and half years in, Cheddar is a bona fide media concern, a live and on demand video news network that broadcasts weekdays from the...


Refinery29’s Philippe von Borries and Piera Gelardi

As two of the four co-founders of media and entertainment company Refinery29, Philippe von Borries and Piera Gelardi have used a pro-women, taboo-shattering ethos to build a behemoth catering to the interests and cravings of young women that reaches an audience of upwards of half a billion globally across platforms. It is an audience that brands love (and to hear Refinery's founders tell it, an audience that loves brands back). The couple joins the podcast today as their 29Rooms event packs...


Nick Brien, CEO Americas of Dentsu Aegis Network

“We’re not in the advertisement business. We’re in the engagement business,” says Nick Brien, CEO of Dentsu Aegis Network Americas. The advertising company was formed in 2013 to manage parent company Dentsu’s operations outside of Japan. Dentsu now generates more than half of its revenue — 59 percent last year — from outside its home market. Yet Dentsu and Dentsu Aegis Network are less known and less understood in the U.S. than the big holding companies WPP, Omnicom, Publicis and IPG....


Studio 71 co-founder Reza Izad

Chances are, even if you are an avid consumer of short form streaming videos, you’ve never heard of Studio 71. But you’ve seen their work — or at least your kids have. From Canadian YouTube superstar Lilly Singh to vlogger Roman Atwood to Good Mythical Morning with Rhett and Link — Studio 71 is the media agency behind videos that generate a reported 9.5 billion views across platforms every month. The company, co-founded by Reza Izad, helps creators make money and grow their offering for...


Wondery founder and CEO Hernan Lopez

When Hernan Lopez left his post as president and CEO of Fox International Channels in 2016 to launch a podcast company people asked him a straightforward question: Are you nuts? But he saw parallels between the nascent medium of podcasting and the cable industry of the early 2000s. The company he started is called Wondery, and today it produces premium podcast fare like Dirty John and Business Wars. Wondery’s newest show is called Dr. Death. It was released just this Tuesday and is already...


Sub Rosa founder Michael Ventura gets empathic

Michael Ventura wrote the book on empathy. Literally. The founder of the New York strategy and design consultancy Sub Rosa is a multi-hyphenate. When he’s not advising a portfolio of Fortune 500 clients and progressive start-ups, he is running an experiential shopping venture called Calliope with his wife, running an art gallery and event space, publishing a newsletter called La Petite Mort — the french expression for orgasm — and running an eastern and indigenous medicine and healing...


How Terry Young, CEO of Sparks & Honey, is mapping culture

When Terry Young founded the agency Sparks & Honey in 2012, it was billed as a “next-generation” agency that really gets culture. Last month the Omnicom shop announced that it was — you guessed it — repositioning as a technology-led cultural consultancy. If it sounds like yet another agency scrambling to maintain relevance with buzzwords, Young says it’s an outward reflection of what they’ve been up to internally for years. He joins us on the Ad Lib podcast to talk about how the agency maps...