Brad Berens

Chief Strategy Officer, Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg

I’m a digital strategist, consultant, editor, writer, critic, public speaker and thinker: mostly about media (new and old), culture (high and low), marketing (traditional and interactive) and how the things that audiences do with what they watch have a huge impact on who they are.

The internet has changed and will continue to change how audiences do that voodoo that they do so often, and tracking those changes is a big part of what I do here on this site and in talks I give all over the country.

I spend my professional time as a Principal at Big Digital Idea Consulting and as a Senior Research Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future.

You can get details about my career at my LinkedIn profile, and in what follows.

I enjoyed a long tenure as the Global Chief Content Officer for ad:tech, the iMedia Summits, the CMO Executive Summits and the MLX Event series– all part of the dmg :: events Digital Marketing Sector. I came to iMedia in 2004 to become editorial head of their daily media property, iMedia Connection, and was later promoted to my current role when what was then called dmg world media acquired iMedia Communications.

Before iMedia, I spent four years as the editor of all things digital at EarthLink, the ISP. There, I led the charge on redesigning the company’s main corporate website (everything from the information architecture to the copy on every page) and later was tasked with transmogrifying the company’s bLink Magazine into eLink, an online newsletter and primary customer touchpoint with a circulation of roughly seven million.

I came to EarthLink from Lineup Technologies, a path-breaking but sadly-ahead-of-its-time dot-com that suffered the fate of so many such companies in the big 2000 bubble pop. Six years later, a lot of what Lineup was trying to do companies like YouTube, Google, Yahoo! and many others are actually doing. Prior to Lineup, I spent a few years as a story analyst in Hollywood, working for companies like DreamWorks, CAA and New Regency, as well as for directors like Ridley Scott and Sydney Pollack. I also wrote a regular “Script Doctor” column for a company called ScriptShark.

It surprises some people to learn that I got my start thinking about media, culture and what audiences do with them as a bona fide Shakespearean scholar and stage historian. I have a Ph.D. in English from U.C. Berkeley, and spent years as a teacher and scholar, giving talks about Shakespeare all over the world. From Shakespeare to the internet can seem like a crazy transition, but when you learn that much of my academic work concerns how Shakespeare invented the modern audience — how he created the way we watch movies, TV and other forms of mass culture today — my weird career trajectory starts to make a bit more sense.

But who am I as a person?

I was born in Los Angeles and have lived here for most of my life, although I took a long excursion away when I went to college at Brown University and then grad school (for — yikes! — most of the 1990s) up at Berkeley. I’m a family man. I live with my wife, daughter and son in Portland, Oregon, having relocated from Southern California, where I was born, raised and still spend a lot of time.

My Sessions

Using Data to Spend More Effectively

As the media universe continues both to fragment and to become ever more regulated, the stakes of the two key questions behind every ad impression go up. Those questions are: 1) what’s the ROI on my spend? and 2) is the environment where my ad appears both safe and suitable for my brand? In today’s […]