When it comes to digital technology, Himesh Bhise has always been ahead of the curveHe developed groundbreaking growth strategies and mobile services for web giants AOL, XFINITY and Charter Communications. Now he’s making even bigger things happen as CEO of Synacor. In today’s episode, Himesh shares how he became a pioneer in the industry, and reveals how Synacor’s multiplatform experiences and advertising tech are revolutionizing the way brands engage with consumers. 

Topics include:

  • Always striving to improve the consumer experience (including ads)
  • How to design for the end user in mind
  • What it means to optimize in the moment
  • Why we forget the customer identity (and how not to)

Himesh Bhise has spent his career as an innovator and executive in broadband, multiscreen and mobile technology. Prior to Synacor, Himesh led New Services & Platforms for Comcast Cable, where his portfolio included content platforms like XFINITY Streampix, advanced advertising, cloud products, prepaid services, and X1 apps – all transforming the consumer experience. Earlier, he led the Internet business for Charter, the mobile business for AOL, and was a leader in the telecom practice of McKinsey & Company. Himesh received his MBA from the Wharton School

Learn more about Himesh Bhise:


itunes-icon Himesh Bhise: Digital Media – Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow

Today we’re talking to Kaaren Whitney-Vernon and Jay Bennett (CEO and Senior Vice President of shift2) about their smash YouTube series Carmilla, and how they harnessed the power of niche to build a devoted audience. We also talk about creating content that audiences value and appreciate, why it’s important to be a maverick in the entertainment space, and how to introduce brand messaging in ways that are fun, engaging and completely authentic.

Topics include:

  • How to build a loyal fandom and tremendous ROI
  • Branded content vs. branded entertainment
  • Why (and how) all brands can leverage social messaging
  • How to reach (and engage with) Millennials
  • Why entertainment transcends advertising (and what that means for ROI)

Kaaren Whitney-Vernon serves as CEO of Millennial-focused branded entertainment agency shift2. A co-venture with leading production company Shaftesbury, shift2 works with brands to harness the power of video content on YouTube. shift2’s branded entertainment projects include three seasons of the hit YouTube series Carmilla, funded by U By Kotex®; the mysterious V Morgan Is Dead, brought to life by RBC; and both seasons of the fashion-focused series MsLabelled, produced in partnership with Shaw Media and Schick® Quattro for Women® (season 1), and in partnership with Tetley and Matua (season 2), which have generated 22 million views and counting on shift2′s popular KindaTV YouTube channel for strong, empowered women aged 13 – 30.

As Senior Vice President, Creative and Innovation, Jay Bennett is responsible for the creative direction and innovation of the company, focusing on technology and multi-screen content including original digital and feature film projects and branded entertainment, working closely with shift2 Inc. He also oversees Shaftesbury’s award-winning digital studio, Smokebomb Entertainment, in addition to marketing, research, audience engagement and merchandising and licensing strategies across all divisions. Jay is an Emmy® award-winning leader in the global digital landscape whose unique creative vision has been appearing on screens of all sizes for almost a decade. He has created and produced numerous productions and applications, with a distinct focus on blending storytelling with innovative technologies and social strategies, bringing a 360-degree approach to mainstream audience engagement.

Learn more about Kaaren Whitney-Vernon:

Learn more about Jay Bennett:


itunes-icon Kaaren Whitney-Vernon & Jay Bennett:  The Secret to Building A Devoted Fanbase That Will Follow You Anywhere

Michael Zimbalist is the Chief Marketing Officer of Simulmedia – a marketing technology company that brings together the reach of linear television with the targeting and performance of digital media. Today we explore how marketers can still use audience-targeted TV to convert customers and grow their brands. Michael also reveals why the convergence of digital distribution and traditional media isn’t happening as fast as you might think.

Topics include:

  • The most powerful market segmentation method
  • Why brands need a defined purpose to resonate with digital natives
  • Digital spending vs. television spending
  • Why the switch to digital will make everything even more fragmented
  • Why networks need to minimize excess frequency

Michael Zimbalist leads Simulmedia’s efforts to transform television advertising into a people-centric model. Prior to Simulmedia, he spent 10 years at the New York Times Company, where he was most recently Senior Vice President of Advertising Products and Research & Development. In that role, he oversaw advertising products, systems, operations and programmatic, in addition to managing the company’s R&D Group, a division which he founded upon joining the company in 2006. In his earlier career, Michael was a Disney Imagineer and President of the Online Publishers Association, serving in a variety of roles at the intersection of advertising, marketing, and technology. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brown University.

Learn more about Michael Zimbalist:


itunes-icon Michael Zimbalist: Making Traditional Television Behave Like Digital Media

Today we’re talking to Traci Paige Johnson (yummico founder and creator of the Nickelodeon megahit Blues Clues) about her groundbreaking work in children’s interactive entertainment. She also takes us behind the scenes at yummico, and reveals what it takes to get a TV show produced – and discovered – in the new age of children’s programming.

Topics include:

  • The big changes in children’s consumption habits
  • Why children’s media companies are taking on shorter form content
  • Creating brand awareness through merchandising and content marketing
  • Teaching children healthy media routines

Traci Paige Johnson is the creator of Blues Clues, Nickelodeon’s acclaimed children’s franchise ($1billion merchandising business) known for its pioneering visual style and activity-based pedagogy. Traci also co-created PBS’ hit preschool reading show, Super Why! She oversees yummico’s creative vision and curriculum.

Learn more about Traci Paige Johnson:


itunes-icon Traci Paige Johnson: From Blues Clues to Digital Disruption

Beth Fraikorn is Head of Alternative Content at Breakthrough Entertainment – one of Canada’s largest independent production and distribution companies. In today’s episode, she explores some of the biggest trends in nonfiction content and how it stacks up against its scripted counterparts. Topics include a contrarian view on how much traditional broadcasting has really changed in the digital era, how content is improving communication across the world, and much more.

Topics include:

  • Why broadcasters are more open to funded content
  • Creating traditional programming that feels like streaming
  • How social media can make content more attractive to broadcasters
  • Why TV channels still have defined brands
  • Why violence in programming is out of control

As Head of Alternative Content, USA, Beth Fraikorn handles business development and production activities in nonfiction for the US market as well as exploring strategic partnerships with US independent production companies, broadcasters and digital providers.

Beth has a well-rounded career in both production and distribution and has applied her strategies with companies such as Disney, NHK and Time-Life. She has worked on and placed television series with NBC, ABC, CBS, ESPN, Disney, Discovery Channels, Scripps and PBS. Beth was the former President of Compulsion Entertainment and founded Remarkable Content Group. Beth is a National EMMY recipient, has been a judge for the EMMYs, PGA and the NAACP. She is also Co-Chair, Non-fiction and Documentary Committee, Producers Guild of America East.

Learn more about Beth Fraikorn:


itunes-icon Beth Fraikorn: Content, Consumption, And The Evolution of Broadcasting