Chris Allen, VP/Video Innovation Director, Starcom

Chris Allen’s Starcom responsibilities include bridging the traditional world of TV and the much broader world of video wherever it exists. In forging a relationship between the two, Allen, as VP/video innovation director, has helped create some of the models that will mold the future of the media business.

Allen invests Starcom ad dollars both in TV and the addressable-advertising realm—including online video and mobile. He buys everything from network TV, cable and Hulu to Apple iPad apps.

As Allen’s title suggests, he’s been a pioneer at the company, which counts Kellogg’s, Disney and Nintendo among its clients. He’s a member of a group called The Pool, a giant R&D operation involving marketers across the industry that aims to coordinate efforts in the engagement field. He’s also organized VivaKi, an umbrella unit operated by Starcom’s owner Publicis Groupe. Allen is also big on pushing advancements in measurement through efforts such as TiVo’s Power Watch and Stop Watch, which delve into TV viewing habits and measure second-by-second commercial viewing.

Such knowledge of how to cross-fertilize best practices between current models and new ones is the stuff of the industry’s future leaders, and one reason the 36-year-old Allen is on our list.

“There are certain things traditional TV can learn about how to be more granular and provide interactivity,” he says about comparisons with digital measurement. “And there are certainly things online can learn, too: good business practices and the standardization of ad units.”

Allen studied advertising at the University of Texas before joining local agency GSD&M, where he spent 13 years working on clients from AT&T to the U.S. Air Force to MasterCard, as well as restaurant chain Chili’s. Among his biggest achievements: helping to put together the marketing and buys as part of AT&T’s 2007 brand relaunch. His biggest challenge: figuring out where advertising sits in a world increasingly looking to subscription models.

“It is certainly one of the biggest questions in the industry today,” he says. “We have to find the right balance between what consumers are willing to shell out and what advertising they’ll accept.” It’s yet another gap Allen is equipped to help bridge.