Brian Monahan is the managing partner for MAGNA Global where he and his team literally predict the future of media through data. Brian is also the guest editor for Mediapost’s Media Magazine’s “The Future of Media” issue. We recently asked him about that experience as well as about his role at MAGNA.
The Makegood: Brian this past summer you joined Interpublic’s MAGNA strategic investment unit with its $26 billion in media under management. Can you tell us a bit about your responsibilities there and what motivated you to join the team?
MAGNA predicts the future of the media marketplace for our Clients’ benefit. MAGNA provides the rigorous quantitative analysis that compliments the qualitative curation of media trends I previously did at the IPG Media Lab. There is no shortage of people with opinions about where the media and marketing industry is heading. However, there are very few places like MAGNA that have a team of ex Wall Street quants crunching the numbers.
The Makegood: You are the guest editor for the current issue of Media magazine. What was the experience like, pulling together an entire issue together under a deadline?
It was a wonderful project made all the more enjoyable by the smart and scrappy team at Mediapost. Every time I would get too precious about something, Joe Mandese (editor of Media Magazine) would remind me that journalism is the best first draft in history. Getting a magazine out is a lot like launching a big ad campaign. The calendar is unforgiving and some point you just have to go with what you have. There was a pretty hilarious scene where I was driving with some friends to go camping and I was finally able to get 20 minutes with David Pescovitz the day before deadline. We were surrounded by the sheer granite walls of the Sierra Nevada’s Feather River canyon when I screamed at my friend to slam on the breaks and back up because I had finally gotten a bar on my phone.
The Makegood: The themes that that you tackle are heady and far reaching in this issue. What are some of the pieces you are especially proud of?
I hope people find the time to get in to the issue. Lord knows we have enough RSS feeds, twitter updates, and panel discussions to keep us abreast of industry news. I wanted to use the long format to explore some of the consequences of media evolution upon the very people with whom we seek to communicate. I read it cover to cover on a flight and liked it all. I think the interviews with Howard Rheingold about how media impacts social structures and Tim Kring on the craft of transmedia storytelling were pieces you don’t usually see in a trade magazine.
The Makegood: This issue of Media magazine is particularly striking and beautiful. How much input did you have in the design and art direction?
MAGNA provided a lot of the data for the Infographics but the team at Mediapost deserves all the credit for the layout of the book. At the risk of revealing my vanity, we did my photo shoot at the Mediapost offices on a particularly muggy NYC day. The result was a bunch of crappy photos like the one that appears in the exit interview. When I saw those, I went and hit up my friends at 215 McCann in San Francisco for a cover shot mulligan.
The Makegood: Would you ever serve as a guest editor again?
It certainly turned out to be more work than I thought it would be going in. But I would do it again as long as the team involved could agree to a provocative topic upfront and then hold true to that vision as the pressure of deadlines increase.
The Makegood: Thanks, Brian!