Center Leadership

Jeffrey Cole, Founder and Director
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Jeffrey I. Cole, founder and director, Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg.

Jeffrey Cole has been at the forefront of media and communication technology issues, both in the United States and internationally, for the past three decades. An expert in the field of technology and emerging media, Cole serves as an adviser to governments and leading companies around the world as they craft digital strategies.

In July 2004 Cole joined the USC Annenberg School for Communication as director of the newly formed Center for the Digital Future and as a research professor. Prior to joining USC, Cole was a longtime member of the UCLA faculty and served as director of the UCLA Center for Communication Policy, based in the Anderson Graduate School of Management.

Cole founded and directs the World Internet Project, a long-term longitudinal look at the effects of computer and Internet technology conducted in over 35 countries. At the announcement of the project in June 1999, Vice President Al Gore praised Cole as a “true visionary providing the public with information on how to understand the impact of media.”

Twenty-three years into the project, the World Internet Project, through its unique data on Internet users around the world, is the leading, unrivaled international project examining the ways in which technology changes our lives.

Cole regularly presents trends and insights of the project to the White House, FCC, Congress, Department of Defense and heads of governments around the world. He has worked closely with the CEOs of GroupM, Ericsson, Telstra, Wesfarmers and others. On the advisory side, his long-term relationships have included Microsoft, Sony, Time Warner, AT&T, AARP, CBS, NBC, ABC, CPB, PBS, HP, Coca-Cola, and many more as they learn to navigate the digital future. He also sits on the Global Digital Strategy Board of Unilever (the world’s second largest advertiser).

In 2016 Cole was one of the founders of the Global Disruption Fund (GDF), a technology investment fund based in Australia. Cole is one of the members of the Investment Committee identifying innovative companies and those about to be disrupted, making investments based on his work. Since 2017 he has written a popular and widely circulated column on disruption, media, technology and entertainment.  (more)

Brad Berens, Strategic Advisor and Senior Research Fellow
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Brad Berens, Strategic Advisor, Center for the Digital Future at USC Annenberg

Strategic advisor and senior research fellow Brad Berens helps to shape how the Center works with partners and the media.

Brad is principal at Big Digital Idea Consulting, a boutique strategy shop, and advises companies, including Glasswing Ventures, Ascendant Network, Ad Fontes Media, and Purpose Worldwide.

Recently, Brad spent two years as the Editor in Chief of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB). Previously, Brad was the worldwide head of programming for dmg events’ portfolio of events focused on the intersection of interactive media with marketing and advertising, including ad:tech, the iMedia Summits, and the CMO Collective. He began his time at dmg events as the editor in chief of iMedia Connection, a daily media property covering the intersection of technology and advertising. Before that, Brad was the editor of all things digital at EarthLink.

Berens began his career as a teacher and Shakespearean scholar at UC Berkeley, where he earned a Ph.D. He has worked as a Hollywood story analyst for studios like DreamWorks and New Regency, and smaller production houses like Mirage and Scott Free.

Brad is also a writer. He hopes that you will check out his novel, Redcrosse. Currently, he is working on a non-fiction book called The Shakespeare Startup. You can see an early version of the topic on this popular TEDx talk.

Follow Brad on LinkedIn and subscribe to his newsletter: The Brad Berens Weekly Dispatch.