Brad Berens Profile

Brad Berens is a futurist and a historian, or “futuristorian,” and this means that he is a digital strategist, consultant, editor, writer, critic, public speaker and thinker: mostly about media and technology (new and old), how changes in those evolve in a dynamic with behavior and 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 he do here on this site and in talks I give all over the world.

Brad Berens spends his professional time as a Senior Fellow at the USC Annenberg Center for the Digital Future, where he leads a handful of exciting projects, and as a Principal at Big Digital Idea Consulting.

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

Brad Berens 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. He came to iMedia in 2004 to become editorial head of their daily media property, iMedia Connection, and was later promoted to his current role when what was then called dmg world media acquired iMedia Communications.

Before iMedia, he spent four years as the editor of all things digital at EarthLink, the ISP. There, he 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.

He 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, he 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. He also wrote a regular “Script Doctor” column for a company called ScriptShark.

It surprises some people to learn that he got his start thinking about media, culture and what audiences do with them as a bona fide Shakespearean scholar and stage historian. Brad Berens 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 his 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 — his weird career trajectory starts to make a bit more sense. You can see his TEDx talk about Shakespeare as a business genius to get a sense of how his first career and subsequent work slam into each other.

But who is Brad Berens as a person?

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

Brad Berens Speaking Videos

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Brad Berens's Speech Descriptions

- Technology and Behavior Trends
- Future Proofing your Business
- Innovation and Disruption
- The Future of Transportation
- Media and Entertainment
- Changing Customer and Audience Behavior
- Digital Marketing & Advertising
- Shakespeare as a Business Innovator

What People are Saying about Seeing Brad Speak

Rating Entries

“Brad Berens is a fantastic keynote who knows his craft very well. Brad opened ad:tech Sydney and kicked off our show in style. He is an absolute professional who is easy to work with and takes all in his stride. I highly recommend Brad to anyone looking to for a future-facing keynote speaker at their event.“
– Ryf Quail, Managing Director of Comexposium in Australia and New Zealand

“A stand out– succinct arguments, opinionated but respectful, backed with data but presented as common sense.”

“Best presentation of the conference. Brad knew his content so back to front that I was engaged and listening the entire time! I didn’t even look down to take notes.”

“He gets where we are heading– fantastic!”

“I asked Brad to be the “headliner” presentation at a Board retreat before two dozen leaders across sectors in for-profit and nonprofit of the San Francisco Bay Area as well as a 13 member executive team. Brad’s challenge was to look 5-10 years ahead at changes in media and audience behavior, so that our public media organization could reimagine our future of producing and distributing video and audio while staying true to our mission of strengthening and building community. Brad over-delivered by weaving together a story of data, cultural context, industry changes, and personal anecdotes which engaged everyone and sparked dialogue during… and after.“
– Michael Isip, EVP & COO of KQED

“Brad Berens uniquely combined timeless aspects of storytelling with sharpest-edge technology trends in his FutureM talk. I truly appreciated how he customized the presentation to include Boston-area examples and to weave in what the previous speakers throughout the conference had discussed. He is a fantastic and impactful speaker, and I’m not the only one who thought so. Some of our attendees described Brad as “inspirational and very thought provoking,” “too short” (I never hear this), and “the most thought-provoking presentation of the conference.” I hope Brad got out as much as he put into his terrific presentation.“
– Katharine Panessidi, VP of Content and Events for the Massachusetts Innovation and Technology Exchange

“SciFutures recently hired Brad to kick off a series of presentations at an offsite summit for our CPG client. Brad is an outstanding speaker– he is engaging and funny, but most importantly he has a brilliant ability to help his audience comprehend the challenges and opportunities of these fast moving times that we live in. Brad’s gift is that he makes complex issues easy to understand and he provides his audience with a concrete road map to leverage these opportunities. He is highly recommended and we will definitely be hiring him again.“
– Ari Popper, CEO of SciFutures

“I’ve always considered Brad’s advice kind of a digital marketing ‘secret weapon.’ His knowledge of the space and of where we are headed is insightful and valuable. That said, Brad’s advice isn’t for geeks only. I engaged Brad to create ad:tech custom sessions for the brand marketing teams at ConAgra Foods when I was there and, more recently, to speak with the Red Bull marketing team at our headquarters about digital trends for Red Bull key consumers. Brad delivered brilliantly. Both sessions exceeded my high expectations. The sessions helped our newly-inspired and informed marketers deliver better outcomes than ever.“
– Kevin Doohan, Director of Digital Marketing for Red Bull

“Brad Berens’ keynote speech ‘The Big Trends of Social Media’ at the Notre Dame Marketing Symposium in March 2010 managed the neat trick of being both be meaty and mesmerizing. Packed with startling facts and insightful anecdotes, Brad’s remarks provoked thoughtful discussion and provided the right frame for the rest of the symposium. Everyone remembered his concept of importance of ‘social friction’ and why it matters long after the conference ended.”
– Carol Phillips, President of Brand Amplitude

“We had our own Summit, and, in fact, Brad Berens came in… and we had 10 or 11 speakers. That’s what triggered it for us. Brad was presenting, and the CMO turned around [to ask], ‘Murph, can we do that? Can we do that?’ If you can bring in some outside speakers to validate what you’re doing, it will help tremendously, because that’s what set us off… It was enlightening for our management. We’re talking with them for months, and then within two hours after Brad’s presentation, it was over. It was great.”
– Tim Murphy of Anheuser-Busch Digital Marketing

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Books by Brad Berens:


Los Angeles, 2023. CyberPlagues — incurable technology-epidemics — have swept the country crippling victims whenever they’re near electro-magnetic fields, amplified sound or petroleum fumes. The credit card industry has merged with the health insurance industry, making it impossible for a person with high cholesterol to order a pizza without losing his benefits or for a person with a family history of lung cancer to light up a cigarette. When disgraced police detective Diana McNight hires on with Drakanis Consulting, her street smarts and tech savvy complement the more cerebral skills of former professor John Drakanis. Their first case: famous scientist Dr. Samuel Wilkes has suffered a fatal heart attack while sitting in a sophisticated diagnostic device he invented: the Redcrosse Chair. Where the health/credit companies track every ailment, purchase and move their subscribers make, Redcrosse promises clear, actionable medical advice with no data trail. The project had been a holy mission for Wilkes, but now he’s dead and it looks like Redcrosse killed him. Was it really an accident or was it murder? As Diana and Drakanis investigate, more and more accidents happen to them and the people around them—can they find the truth before it’s too late?

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