30 under 30: The young and the restless in DM

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DMNews gathered the best and brightest ‘whiz-kids' in the industry to present its first-ever “30 under 30” list -- thirty finalists that were judged on their proven ability to lead teams, initiate change and growth, drive measurable results for companies or clients and deliver fresh insight into the marketing challenges in the direct, database and interactive marketing industry. Topping the list? Jeff Arbour, SVP, North America, the Hyperfactory.

Click here to watch a video interview with Arbour.

1. Jeff Arbour, SVP, North America, the Hyperfactory, 28

The Hyperfactory's Jeff Arbour certainly lives up to his company's name. The New York City-based mobile marketer has been moving non-stop since joining the Hyperfactory in 2006 as its first US employee.

In the last 12 months, Arbour, along with the 30-person US team he oversees, has launched more than 125 mobile campaigns across the globe. In addition, he's formulated full domestic and global mobile marketing strategies for such lauded brands as Toyota, JCPenney, Motorola, DHL, Unilever, Nestle and Procter & Gamble. Hyperfactory's Mastercard program was a finalist for “best use of mobile” at this year's Ad:tech conference — where Arbour was also a featured speaker — and won the silver for “mobile platform” at Mixx.

Arbour is also more than willing to share his expertise. He has spoken at the MMA Forum in New York City and Spain, the Interactive Advertising Bureau and CTIA Smart Phone Summit. He is a member of the Mobile Marketing Association (MMA), the Ad Club of NYC and the advisory board for Parsons Emerging Research Lab, an invitation-only mobile think tank.

As mobile marketing continues to grow in the US, we're sure to see more innovative and exciting campaigns from Arbour, who, as an avid snowboarder and surfer, obviously knows how to keep things edgy, fun and adrenaline-filled.

2. Jessica Manna, VP and CMO, Residential Finance, 29

It's a testimony to her skills as a marketer that happy client Residential Finance Corp. poached Jessica Manna from her former position at Intellidyn Corp. Manna, 29, has been VP and CMO of Residential Finance since March of 2008, and the company's founder and president, Michael Isaacs, couldn't be happier about winning her over.

 “Jessica's direct marketing expertise plays an important part in our ability to move forward aggressively in today's economic climate,” he says.

In her previous role as VP of business development at Intellidyn Corp., Manna developed a complete end-to-end direct marketing strategy and managed campaign deployment for Ditech.com, which had re-branded and suffered through the subprime mortgage bust. Manna's strategy was so successful that Ditech signed on for a new development phase with a $2.6 million budget. Manna also worked on a team that developed a customized e-mail marketing program for GMAC. That program won GMAC $34 million in new accounts within 6 months and earned Residential Finance a Marketing Sherpa “Gold Consumer” award.

Between creating award-winning programs and overseeing all direct-to-consumer marketing initiatives, brand redesign and Web site redesign for Residential, Manna has found time for membership in the American Marketing Association, Public Relations Society of America and the Direct Marketing Association.

3. Patrick McKenna, founder and CEO, DMi Partners, 28

Patrick McKenna likes to get his hands dirty, both literally — in flag football games with his family — and figuratively, as the ultra-involved founder and CEO of DMi Partners.

In 2003, McKenna and colleagues launched DMi, a Philadelphia-based interactive marketing and e-commerce firm and the company achieved 556% growth from 2004 through 2007. This can partly be attributed to DMi's proprietary tools, SmartLeads and DARC (DMi Advanced Reporting Center), which McKenna helped design. DMi has helped a slew of big-name clients, including Tastykake Baking Co. and specialty finance company JG Wentworth, which saw its Internet-generated leads increase by 29.5% within six months of signing with DMi.

The company has doubled its staff since January 2008, but McKenna is also working to decrease DMi's carbon footprint through long-standing office efforts, and to increase the company's community involvement with an annual “Day of Service.”

DMi was awarded this year's American Graphic Design Award for its redesign and launch of Mitchell and Ness' Web site, and McKenna has also been recognized individually: he was invited to join the 2008 American Business Awards board of distinguished judge and advisors, and in 2007 received the Forbes Enterprise Award.

4. Chad Sollis, director of marketing and operations, Omniture Inc., 29

His Omniture colleagues call him a Swiss Army knife — not only because Sollis is sharp, but because he possesses all the tools required of a top online marketer.

Sollis' skill set combines “the art and science of marketing,” says Mikel Chertudi, senior director of online marketing at the Utah-headquartered online advertising and analytics firm. This explains how Sollis could have done all of the code and engineering for Omniture's patent-pending Closed Loop Marketing technology, which can track the effectiveness of a campaign from an ad impression all the way through to a closed sale; then turn around and create an online campaign that produced a 600% conversion rate.

During his two-year tenure in his current position, Sollis has focused on increasing conversion rates across multiple channels using many of the latest online marketing tactics, including behavioral targeting and multivariate testing. Previously, he honed his creative skills as creative director at Overstock.com, where he helped increase checkout conversion rates up to 75% by simplifying the checkout process.

It's no surprise, then, that Sollis is in demand as a speaker at industry events or that he is winning accolades from his peers, including Eloqua's Markie Marketing Visionary award and the Online Marketing Association's Best Web Design award.

5. Jonathan Pogact, VP of sales, Dunn Data Company, 26

Jonathan Pogact brings unique vision to the database world, spending the past couple of years conceiving and doing the legwork to create cooperative databases for both gay and lesbian marketers and marketers of liberal causes.

“He's my protégé — I've been looking for him all my life,” says Stephen Dunn, president of Dunn Data Company. Pogact recently took control of the company's business-to-business database and singlehandedly rebuilt the floundering business. “He did it in under a year — he's amazing,” Dunn adds.

Pogact began his career at age 17 as an intern, but quickly worked his way up the ladder. The key to his quick rise within the organization is “his intelligence, flexibility, people skills and the fact that he grasps direct marketing principles immediately,” Dunn says.

He is also active in the direct marketing industry, and is a member of the Direct Marketing Association's List and Database Council, Direct Marketing Club of New York and The Hudson Valley Direct Marketing Association.

In 2005, Pogact was honored with the DMA's List and Database Council Ron Davis Young List Professional of the Year Award.  

6. Megan Bannon, cultural anthropologist, Rapp, 24

As head of Cultura, Rapp's new cultural anthropology and research group, Megan Bannon is leading the way for direct marketers that are trying to figure out how to derive meaningful data from the conversations consumers are having online. 

“I'm not sure Cultura would have been formed without her,” says Brooke Capps, global director of communications at Rapp's Chicago office, who says Bannon is “an amazing Renaissance thinker.” Bannon holds an MS in Applied Anthropology from the University of North Texas, one of two schools in the US that has a Business Anthropology program.

Bannon began at Rapp in May 2007 as a summer intern, but was quickly recognized by management for her ability to approach data from both a qualitative and a quantitative approach. She was promoted to cultural anthropology lead in May 2008 and currently oversees a team dispersed throughout North America. Over the past year and a half, she has built up a research methodology called Digital Anthropology, which qualitatively and quantitatively analyzes and organizes consumer-generated content online to inform client strategy.

She is also gaining wider recognition within the Omnicom Group, of which Rapp is a part. Bannon was recently picked by a member of G23, Omnicom's women's consultancy made up of senior level executives, to become a member of G23 Next.

7. Daren Cotter, founder and CEO, CotterWeb Enterprises, 27

Daren Cotter has always had a passion for technology and entrepreneurship, so it wasn't surprising when the Minnesota State University college freshman thought he could develop a better online rewards program than the one he was using. So at 19 he founded CotterWeb Enterprises, an online loyalty marketing services firm, in his dorm room. The company rewards members with cash instead of points or prizes for online activities such as trying advertisers' products and completing marketing research surveys.

Cotter Web's properties, InboxDollars.com and SendEarnings.com, already have 6 million registered members, and the company has grown from $2 million in 2004 annual revenues to $12.4 million in 2007.

While Cotter has gotten plenty of press for his accomplishments so far — including being named to Inc.'s annual list of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in the West, as well as being profiled in a slew of Minnesota-based publications — he also enjoys giving back to the local community. Since 2005,CotterWeb has partnered with a local nonprofit organization, Lifeworks, which pairs people with disabilities to a job in the community, including at CotterWeb.

In his spare time — if there is any left — Cotter enjoys watching hockey and playing golf.

8. Kevin Lange, VP, operations director, SMG Search, 29

With an early eye on the potential power of search engine marketing, Kevin Lange co-founded the Chicago-based SMG Search, a dedicated search unit of Starcom MediaVest Group, with the goal of staying ahead of the curve in the pioneering search marketing industry. The marketing services company led top clients such as Disney and Kellogg into the rapidly growing sector, and Lange took a lead role in launching General Motors' global search campaign, including award-winners such as Google Pontiac.

Previously, Lange worked at SMG's sister agency Starcom IP, developing expertise through working with client Network Solutions for four years. He received a BS in advertising from Bradley University in Peoria, IL.

Lange continues to innovate, working to transform search marketing – he led and participated in several Google product tests before their market launches, and develops tools, best practices and new platforms for SMG Search. He is certified in Google AdWords and a member of the Doubleclick Client Advisory Board. In his off hours, he enjoys watching football and participating in sports fantasy championships.

9. Rob Gonda, director of digital strategy, Sapient, 29

As the director of digital strategy at Boston-based marketing and consulting company Sapient, Rob Gonda has spent the last year creating brand and marketing strategy and providing award-winning creative work, Web development and emerging media expertise. He is also a member of Sapient's Technology Leadership Team, a select group of employees that make decisions for the entire company in a specific area.

In 2004, he co-founded and was CTO at interactive agency iChameleon Group, and spent the previous six years as partner and CTO at International Business Link.

His work has been recognized by many interactive advertising entities, including Cannes — he won three awards for his work with brands such as Guinness. A Facebook application he designed for Coca-Cola's new brand Burn garnered him an award from OMMA and he and his iChameleon team received 17 Addy awards for clients such as Taco Bell, Motorola and Virgin Mobile.

If being a technological guru isn't enough, Gonda is also a passionate guitarist and speaks Spanish, Portuguese, Hebrew and French. He also regularly contributes to two blogs focusing on innovation and emerging industry trends.

10. Neil Patel, CTO and co-founder, ACS, 23

Before he was out of high school, Neil Patel had already co-founded an Internet marketing company, ACS, of which he is now CTO, as well as two additional marketing companies: Crazy Egg and KISSmetrics.

“He's somebody who will grasp a new marketing area and start to leverage it before everyone else,” says nominator Chris Winfield, co-founder of 10e20.com, who has worked with Patel on various projects. “He always seems to be one step ahead of the curve.”

An innovator and avid blogger, Patel's three companies have completed work for top brands such as AOL, General Motors, Hewlett-Packard and Viacom.

He also finds time to provide advice to other bloggers, Web sites or aspiring entrepreneurs, and is an in-demand speaker.

“He's somebody who has really grasped the whole karma thing and has helped so many,” Winfield says. “He is someone who what you see is what you get.”

Patel finds his motivation by constantly staying on top of how people are looking to market and what will be big a year from now, proving that “age doesn't mean anything,” adds Winfield. “The sky is the limit on where to go from here.”


The additional 20 finalists:

Annika Bryntse, director of media, True North Inc., 29

Trying to build a new program for clients is like assembling a puzzle with competing pieces, but someone who gets it right, according to colleagues, is Bryntse.

Since joining the digital direct agency in March, Bryntse, who is based in San Franscisco, has led the company in translating its unique business-to-business approach to the discipline of online media planning and buying, says co-worker Neil Feinstein, director, brand and creative strategy.

“She has a deep understanding of the online media marketplace, where it's going and how to use it,” Feinstein says. “She's very timely in that she knows how online media works and can build a program to get the results you need to get.”

Prior to joining True North, Bryntse had worked for four years as a senior account manager for Bleu Marketing Solutions, also in San Francisco.

At True North, she has developed new strategies, tactics and approaches that have consistently delivered above-and-beyond results, Feinstein says, and as a result, has grown the media operation from zero to $7 million in billing.

And, she is able to motivate her colleagues. “She doesn't need the authority of a title to motivate people. People like working with her,” Feinstein says. “You're motivated by the fact that you just want to do a good job.”

Javier Barragan, VP of acquisition marketing, Flycell, 25

Considering the millions of daily search engine users and rapid expansion of digital marketing, it's certainly noticeable when the two biggest search engines highlight the same person. Javier Barrigan, the VP of acquisition marketing at Flycell, achieved that feat before his 30th birthday, appearing in whitepapers for both Google and Yahoo. Javier's use of Yahoo's conversion tracker to reduce the cost of customer acquisition was heralded by Yahoo as an example of how to get the most from the tool, while Google profiled Javier in a whitepaper related to his specific experience using the Ad words system, what he liked about the platform, and how he had used it to grow the business.

At Flycell, Javier leads customer acquisition worldwide. In his first six months on the job, he has launched two new markets, increased new customer acquisition and lowered overall costs per acquisition.

“Javier has had a very real and immediate positive impact on Flycell in his first 6 months, from his passion for the industry which motivates the entire team, to his ethical approach to acquisitions, and everything in between,” says Lindsey Weinger, VP of Web experience, for the company. Commenting on his reputation for creativity, she adds, “I look forward to what he will pull out of his marketing extraordinaire bag of tricks next.”

Erica DePalma, director of online media, Singer Direct, 28

Erica DePalma's online marketing career, though only six years old, is an exercise in perpetual promotion. In her five years at Digitas, she was promoted five times. Now in her second year at Omnicom-owned Singer Direct, she is still a rising star in online media, making significant improvements to Singer's client-facing presentations and streamlining reporting cycles.

While at Digitas, she rose from media coordinator to media planner, and subsequently on to senior media planner, media supervisor and finally associate media director. Her varied client list included such brands as Wyeth, Kraft, Delta and Marriott. 

Named Media Post magazine's 2003 Media Rising Star and recipient of the 2003 Modem Media (now Digitas) Employee of the Year award, Erica has also served as board member and communications co-chair of 212, New York's interactive adverting club, for 3 years. Additional commendations include other MediaPost awards as well as a DoubleClick Insight Award in 2004 for best online advertising campaign.

A graduate of Loyola College in Baltimore, she is an animal lover and is happy to have World Society for the Protection of Animals as a client at Singer.

Shawn Dragann, SEO supervisor, Digitas Health, 27

Described by colleagues as diligent, passionate and an expert in his field, Shawn Dragann created the Philadelphia-based agency's proprietary research tool that queries 180 search engines and accounts for 32 billion searches every year. It allows the company to perform better keyword research and has resulted in greater efficiency and lower costs for Digitas Health's clients. Since its launch, parent company Digitas has implemented the tool across a variety of industries.

An early entrepreneur, Dragann co-founded SEO sales and lead generation firm eBizMark while in high school, running the company for seven years. In 2005 Dragann also co-founded Student-Subway.com which enables college students and faculty to publish stories about their college experiences, which can then be connected to consumers, major universities, social networks and advertisers.

Since graduating from St. Joseph's University in 2006 with a BS in marketing, Dragann has taken on a half-million dollar book of business for Digitas Health.

“His passion for the work and collaboration with marketing strategy and creative allow us to mine wonderful insights and speak directly to the consumer using their words, in the way they're naturally searching [online],” says Leslie Taylor, VP and group director of marketing at Digitas Health.

Steven Dupree, VP, online marketing and operations, LogMeIn, 26

Despite his young age, Steven Dupree has kept up with online business solutions company LogMeIn, watching the Woburn, MA firm grow from five people to more than 260 people in the four years since he came on board.

Working his way up from marketing analyst to his current status as VP of online marketing and operations, Dupree did everything he could with a small budget of $500 per day — purchasing media, writing and tweaking ad copy and newsletters, providing ideas for new landing pages, managing Google campaigns and providing guidance and analysis for all metrics-related inquiries within the organization.

When the company gave him the opportunity to help expand the company to the European market, Dupree took one weekend to pack up and move to Budapest, where he connected with consultants and agencies to launch marketing programs and execute tradeshows on his own.  This experience broadened his skill set beyond paid search and analytics, and he boosted trials in select markets 15% quarter-over-quarter.

After a few months, Dupree returned to Boston to assume management of the global online marketing. He now manages a team of 10.

When he is not running the ship, you can find him traveling, socializing, studying Spanish, practicing the piano and playing cards.
 

Emily Gannett, co-founder, chief business development officer, Klickable, 28

With a strong background in film – she worked for NBC Universal and Miramax and founded her own film consultancy -- it wasn't a big leap for Emily Gannett to sense that online video would become a dominant player in the interactive world, and capitalize on her experience by founding Klickable, an online video site.

While video is already an interactive and social channel, Gannett sought to make it an even richer medium by allowing videomakers greater engagement opportunities. Klickable offers filmmakers a direct link to an e-commerce site from their videos as well the ability to select “hotspots” in their videos, where viewers can click to learn more about the actor, item or subject of the film being shown in the frame. 

In addition to pioneering the rapidly evolving online video world, Emily sits on the board of Green Owl Records, an environmentally friendly division of Warner Music Group, and is a member of The Committee for the Future of the New York Women's Foundation.

“Emily Gannett is well on her way to changing the world of online marketing,” says Steve Dapper, founder and chairman of agency Hawkeye. “Given her drive and passion, major clients like CBS, NBC and Bravo are already working with Emily. I have no doubt her star will rise even higher.”

Dan Greenberg, co-founder and COO, 750 Industries, 23

Just four years out of high school, Dan Greenberg has already developed a rich background in social media. A 2007 Stanford Graduate with a BA in economics, Greenberg was the lead course assistant for the Stanford Persuasive Technology Lab's “Facebook Class,” which explored how persuasion strategies and digital technology can bring about behavioral change.

As students began making money by developing applications for the social networking giant, Greenberg and another student co-founded The CoMotion Group, a new media consulting firm which helps large companies place videos strategically online in order to increase viral distribution. While still enrolled at Stanford, Greenberg also co-founded software company Increo Solutions.

In January, he dropped out of a Stanford Masters program in management science and engineering to work full time on his latest venture: 750 Industries, a media distribution firm focused on social networking that has secured $1 million in outside funding over the past 18 months. Greenberg will serve as COO and be responsible for operations, sales and customer development. The company has platform partnerships with the leading social networks and will reach more than 30 million unique users through more than 3,000 applications on those sites. 750 Industries plans to launch in January 2009.

Jaime Keller, director of marketing, Leblon Cachaça, 26

Recent spikes in the US popularity of cachaça, Brazil's distilled alcoholic beverage of choice, can largely be attributed to the efforts of Leblon Cachaça's Jaime Keller.

“She's the real deal, and everyone who works with her inside our company and out knows it, and she is the force behind Leblon's success in the United States,” says Steve Luttmann, founder and CEO of Leblon Cachaça.

As director of marketing at Leblon Cachaça, Keller is responsible for the creation and implementation of all marketing programming including direct marketing programs online, public relations outreach, recipe development programs, event planning and sampling programs.

Never one to think inside of the box, Jaime created a non-traditional marketing campaign to promote a popular new cachaça-based drink called the caipirinha through the use of 20 “walking and talking ads” across the US. These “ads” are actually 20 brand ambassadors who visit bars and restaurants to teach staff about cachaça and how to mix drinks. Unique efforts such as this have helped drive a 100% growth for Leblon Cachaça from 2007 to 2008.

Considering Keller's hard work, it is no surprise that cachaça is now the fastest growing spirits category in the US and Leblon Cachaça is the market leader.

Dianna Koltz, director, best practices and e-mail marketing, Memolink

Promoted twice in the last three years, Dianna Koltz has reaped some important rewards as part of Memolink, an online rewards program based in Denver. She is currently responsible for developing an entirely new division charged with improving the marketing practices of internal products and external clients as well as holding them accountable to best practice standards.

“Dianna's accomplishments speak for themselves,” says Nicki Hayes, Memolink's communications director. “Rarely will you find someone at her age with the same level of experience and expertise, not to mention the desire for professional and personal growth.”

Koltz has managed all aspects of Memolink's e-mail marketing efforts, which includes a file of 8 million users, resulting in a 200% increase in effective CPM. Koltz also enjoys sharing her expertise with her peers, as she did when speaking at Return Path's Email Expert Seminar in Denver this year.

When not in the office, her off-the-job activities include a project to develop an online safety and privacy program for teenagers. She plans to take her proposal to local school districts to hopefully gain approval to teach the program to middle and high school students.

But most important, her co-workers emphasize Koltz's attentiveness to her client's best interests — an essential attribute for any direct marketer. 

Alisa Leonard-Hansen, senior social media analyst, iCrossing, 26

Alisa Leonard-Hansen has become a social fixture on the Internet through the work she does with global digital marketing firm iCrossing and her personal blog about social media trends and news, thewebissocial.com.

Hansen's online influence is far-reaching — she was recently named one of the Internet Glitteratti's Most Influential People on Twitter by Gawker.com and ranked No. 17 out of the top 50 people who most influence public news in the digital world in New York City by NowPublic. Leonard-Hansen has also moderated Word of Mouth Marketing Association panels on social media.

“She is an expert on social media because she lives her life in it, so it all comes very naturally to her,” says iCrossing's chief strategy officer Adam Lavelle. “Alisa is incredibly quick at being able to understand how to take social media and apply it to a business.”

As senior social media analyst at iCrossing, Alisa Leonard-Hansen's main responsibilities include providing social media strategy and staying current with all the trends in social media and marketing for iCrossing's Fortune 500 clients. The campaigns she has led have seen great success, including a recent online video contest that saw 700 submissions for broadband Internet provider Embarq.

Holly Matson, organic media planner, Geary Interactive, 25

While barely past the quarter-century mark, Holly Matson, currently an organic media planner at San Diego, CA-based Geary Interactive, is already an online marketing leader, creating two specialized departments at two different digital marketing agencies.

Quick to find the social value in everything, Matson works with clients to increase their visibility through SEO tactics and social media campaigns, helping them connect with consumers on a social level and tie these efforts back into a holistic media mix with analytics tracking. By mixing digital campaigns with social media, brands such as M&T Bank, American Apparel, Schurz Communications and NetApp are able to target their customers in very specific ways. Her main objective is to bring clients face-to-face with their consumers and spark interactions.

When not giving lessons on socializing to brands, she is out on the town herself. Most recently, Matson established a San Diego chapter for “Social Media Breakfasts,” the social networking industry parties that meets on a regular basis. She had regularly attended these social media get-togethers in Minnesota. With socializing as her specialty, it is no surprise that Matson is a team player at Geary Interactive, collaborating across departments to make sure that client accounts are being serviced as best they can.


Jennifer Mirabal, marketing services manager, American Airline Federal Credit Union, 27

Simply put, Jennifer Mirabal is a proficient and prolific direct marketer. It is no wonder that her team and colleagues look up to and admire her as a leader.

Mirabal started working for the American Airlines Federal Credit Union in 1999. It wasn't until 2005 that she moved to marketing as a Marketing Analyst where she quickly proved herself and was promoted to manager of marketing services.

She has accomplished much in her three short years as manager or marketing services. She directs and produces an impressive 15 unique direct marketing campaigns each year and is accustomed to seeing an unparalleled level of success with her efforts.

Responses to Mirabal's credit card direct main campaigns consistently exceed industry standards that average less than a 1% response rate.  One such direct mail campaign in July 2007 exceeded the American Airlines Federal Credit Union's expectations by 239% and achieved a 2.5% response rate. Mirabal's exemplary work has continued into 2008 when she developed and launched two new credit cards.

Mirabal is a fine example of what can be achieved in a short amount of time with a passion for marketing and a willingness to seek challenges.

Lara Ortiz, creative services director, Brunet-García Multicultural Advertising & PR, 27

Since joining Brunet-García Multicultural Advertising & PR after graduating from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, Lara Ortiz has risen from creative director of a two-person department to her current role as creative services director, overseeing a staff comprised of two art directors, an interactive arm and a full-time production/traffic coordinator. Lara also heads the Jacksonville, FL-based creative internship program.

“Lara is steeped in the agency's multicultural ‘personality' and ethic and understands how to best translate that commitment to each client,” says Stephanie McClain Barker, public relations manager at Brunet-Garcia. “Her keen feel for the tools it takes to develop a successful creative project has been instrumental in shaping the creative department.”

Lara is also a member of JAXMAC, the American Advertising Federation chapter of Jacksonville, and contributes to nonprofits clients such as Community Hospice, the Housing Partnership of Northeast Florida, and the First Coast Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, among others.

Lara even brings her keen creative sense to her leisure time pursuits. As a crewmember of a J/24 sailing team that competed in the 2007 J/24 Class World Championship regatta in Puerto Vallarta, she used her skills to brand the 2007 J/24 Nationals event and designs the annual US J/24 Class calendar.

Robert Pearson, head of interactive media and marketing, WebVisible, 28

As the founder of an online business, Robert Pearson brings an entrepreneurial spirit to his work at Irvine, California-based WebVisible. Responsible for managing the online advertising success of tens of thousands of local businesses worldwide, he has a keen sense how to help small business navigate online marketing.

Colleagues say that Pearson is a dedicated small business advocate and search marketing expert who is constantly developing new strategies around online marketing. At WebVisible, he helps businesses drive new opportunities through major search engines such as Google, Yahoo and MSN, online display and video ad networks and mobile/location-based advertising.

Previously, Robert also co-founded TattooBin.com, a social networking community for tattoo enthusiasts, artists and studios, and also worked at Tickets.com, a subsidiary of Major League Baseball Advanced Media, integrating its technologies in the interactive space with major marketing campaigns and events. In this position, Robert built a fully interactive media department with cutting-edge technology and grew advertising and sponsorships from $1 million to $7 million.

An avid marathon runner, Pearson also volunteers for several charities, including the John Wayne Cancer Foundation. By using his expertise in online marketing, Pearson helps small businesses to relax — knowing their advertising dollars are invested wisely.


Rod Roudi, manager of sales and operations, Zeta Interactive, 27

“I have had the great fortune to interact with a number of qualified and passionate executives, but I have never met an individual with as much professionalism, discipline and passion.” says Al DiGuido, CEO of Zeta Interactive, of Roudi.

At Zeta, Roudi has built a prospecting database from scratch, and built a team of five account executives to maintain and market it. He has also helped create integrated marketing strategies for several brands. Earlier in his career, as an assistant circulation manager at Ziff Davis Media, he was the member of a team that won Circulation Management's Circulation Excellence award.

But DiGuido focuses not on his personal achievements, but rather the man, who he says  “truly represents the skill and character set that will serve as a role model for others to emulate.” He notes that Roudi works with charities including for Autism Speaks, Al's Angels, Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure, and Fred's Team, a fundraiser for pediatric cancer research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital; a spirit of volunteerism and charity that extends to the office, where he “has taken on many difficult tasks and shown tremendous success in a very short period of time.”

“Rod is not one of those flamboyant, camera grabbing, news headline, goal oriented folks,” DiGuido says. “For Rod, the journey to excellence has its own rewards in a job well done… but not finished.”

Joe Stanfa, art director, Euro RSCG Chicago, 28

Advertising was a natural career choice for Joe Stanfa, who not only wanted to work in a field which drew on information across all subjects, but can affect change on a large scale. He also enjoyed “making other people's ideas look good,” as well as coming up with his own ideas.

It didn't take long for him to land at Euro RSCG, interning twice at the Chicago-based agency before gaining a full-time position. “Even though the company is global in scale and we're doing work for some of the country's largest clients, there's a great ‘small shop' feel which I personally enjoy,” says Stanfa.

Stanfa has already garnered some significant industry recognition in his young career, including being named an International ECHO Awards finalist, an International Caples Awards Finalist 2008, and a Chicago Creative Club Awards Finalist, all in 2008.

This year's career highlight was a unique dimensional direct campaign for Sprint, which included a real Louisville Slugger baseball bat, and was sent to Fortune 1000 Enterprise workers. He has also worked on multimedia projects for Effen and Kraft.

“We use Joe to help turbo-charge our pitches as well,” adds his Euro RSCG colleague Steffan Postaer. “I can always count on him to come up with something special.”

Nathaniel Stevens, founder, Yodle, 25

In 2004, when Nathaniel Stevens was attending Wharton Business School at the University of Pennsylvania, he noticed an opportunity for a lead generation business in local online marketing. While working as a summer intern at his father's auto dealership in Connecticut, he realized that buying search keywords didn't necessarily translate into inbound phone calls. Eventually, he dropped out of Wharton to explore this gap.

Stevens came up with a system to use a unique bidding algorithm to calculate customers' online search behavior to hone a company's online advertising campaigns. The resulting company was Yodle, which uses the technology to drive new leads by phone to local small businesses through unique, and therefore trackable, phone numbers.

Headquartered in New York, Yodle now has offices in Boston, Atlanta and Charlotte, and has a presence in 25 major cities. In the first quarter of 2008, Yodle posted a 700% year-over-year growth rate and the firm now has more than 1,000 clients.

“Nathaniel is a natural-born innovator, and we are all very proud of this well-deserved honor,” said Mike DeLuca, SVP of sales and marketing for Yodle, “It's amazing how far Yodle has come – from an idea he had in 2004.”

Ian Swanson, co-founder and CEO, Sometrics, 28

Early on, Ian Swanson saw the potential of social networking as a direct marketing tool, which is why the Los Angeles-based executive co-founded Sometrics, an analytics company dedicated entirely to the measuring of social networking platforms.  He and his team provide detailed analytics of millions of daily users of social platforms such as Facebook, MySpace and Bebo to help marketers better understand how people are using social media to help them more effectively reach their target audiences.

Before launching Sometrics, Swanson was business development manager for Userplane, an AOL company that provides social media applications to online communities.  In his role at Userplane, Swanson was instrumental in helping the company extend the reach of its hosted chat, IM and other communications applications, and in building the company's ad network.  Before Userplane, he was an executive with Sprint and helped launch two mobile Web startups.  Not bad for a University of California, Santa Barbara graduate who was born in 1980.

Swanson is highly involved in providing thought leadership in the social media space. He has been invited to speak on many social media topics relating to platform apps, social marketing and performance-based analytics.

Mark Unger, new media creative director and partner, Push, 29

The list of awards won by Mark Unger, new media creative director and partner for Orlando, Florida agency Push, is impressive — it includes Webbys, Pixel Awards, Adobe Site of the Day, national Addys and Favourite Website Awards, for which he also serves as a judge. He also won the Charles H. Sawyer prize for Graphic Design while a student at Yale. That kind of creative acumen does not go unnoticed.

“It is his distinct melding of art and media that has positioned him as a true up-and-comer and solidified his role as a Push partner,” says John Ludwig, the CEO and founding partner for Push.

Unger leads Push by producing top interactive marketing campaigns, but his flexibility means that he's not just a one-trick pony, creating popular Web pages that win digital-focused awards. He also developed a guerilla campaign for Eon at Lindbergh, drawing international eyes. Unger also serves as a member of The One Club, a nonprofit which is dedicated to elevating marketing creating by through educating students.

David Wolf, president and founder, Syntryx Executive solutions, 27

As a 17-year-old high school graduate and a 20-year-old college graduate — selling his first Internet company the same year — David Wolf seemed determined to get his career off to a fast start.

That tactic has clearly worked: The young Boulder, CO-based technology entrepreneur went on to develop search technology that would improve media planning and Web site development across networks, industries and locations, which grew into Syntryx Solution Suite, a search engine and media planning solution for online advertisers using proprietary research tools.

Today, his profitable company has grown from a single Colorado office to a firm with New York and San Francisco locations, which services both US and global clients.

Also proud of the fact that he has shot under par in golf, Wolf continues to grow his leadership capabilities in Internet asset valuation, search engine marketing, CRM and affiliate program recruiting. 

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