Jonathan Zimmerman

It is always exciting to see an industry giant receive recognition for his life’s work in front of hundreds of his peers. It is even more special when the man in question is one of the true trail blazers of the very field that is recognizing him, as was the case with CEO of [x+1] John Nardone last Thursday evening at ad:tech New York.

While luminaries like Mark Cuban and Ian Wolfman waited in the wings for their final keynote address, the crowd packed in to watch one industry innovator award the other with the ad:tech Industry Achievement Award. Sarah Fay, former CEO of Aegis Media North America and recipient of the award in 2007, introduced John with warm and truly glowing words.

"John was big on the scene in the early days of digital marketing and for as long as I've known him he has been a visionary. But he's also been an executer. When John sees a better way of marketing is possible, he makes it happen – even if it completely breaks the mold; and the rest of the industry has benefited from the path he has forged. This recognition is well-deserved."

After receiving his BA and MBA from Duke University, John made his first indelible mark in digital marketing in 1994 as VP of Client Strategy for Modem Media. It was in that position that he placed the Internet’s very first paid advertisement, following that up a few years later by establishing the industry’s first online media planning and buying group. During that time he was also elected by his peers to serve as a founding member of the board of directors for the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), a post he held for six years.

"Ours is an industry driven by innovation and collaboration,” he said after receiving the award, “and I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to do both at a time of exciting and important change – change that is only accelerating. I've never been more excited to come to work every day."

Since becoming CEO and Chairman of [x+1] in 2008, John has continued innovating and pioneering the digital marketing space, focusing his attention on the data and analytics sector of the industry. He elaborated on his vision for the future in a blog post after the event, noting how “programmatic marketing” will revolutionize how data is collected and used across platforms.

He also made sure to thank everyone who he’s collaborated with along the way and, once again, the industry he loves.

“Luckily for me, marketing innovation is what I love to do. I’ve had the time of my life working through the advent of online marketing; later, spearheading industry efforts for “marketing accountability,” and now championing real time marketing. But of course innovation isn’t a solo act. It’s about teams and people working together.”

Luckily, for the hundreds of members watching in the audience, John continues to innovate, collaborate and push the entire industry forward.

This article is part of Allvoices’ series on ad:tech, the largest digital marketing and technology conferences and expositions. Check out for more of Allvoices’ ad:tech New York event coverage. This series is supported by ad:tech.