We hear a lot about data science in advertising nowadays. But Gian Fulgoni may have been the trade’s original “Maths Man”. At university, he studied for a physics degree first and a masters in marketing second.

That fusion eventually saw Fulgoni lead IRI, the first major supplier of point-of-sale scanner information to the consumer goods industry, in the 80s and 90s.

It was a period in which he collected awards at a rate of knots – Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Illinois Entrepreneur of the Year, Wall Street Transcript Award for outstanding contributions as CEO and an induction to the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame.

But his crowning achievement is probably co-founding comScore – the media and marketing research company with a $1 billion capitalization and 1,200 staff. So what does Fulgoni know about building a business? Two things:

  1. “You have to surround yourself with-top notch people. There’s a reluctance on the part of some people to hire people who are smarter than they are. Before you know it, you have this exponentially negative dilution of talent. You just have to hire the best and brightest.”
  2. “Try to do what’s never been done before. That’s what fuels me – things some people might say are impossible. If you’ve got enough good people on the team, you have a real good shot.”

It’s apt that comScore runs a corporate responsibility programme called “Trees For Knowledge“. After all, Fulgoni gets a kick out of growing little acorns in to mighty oaks.

To youngsters thinking of planting themselves in a digital industry he calls “dynamic”, Fulgoni, 67, has some advice.

“Take an inventory of what you’re good at and figure out that in a competitive-strength perspective; that’s really important,” he says.

“If you’re creatively good, this is the place to be – there is a renaissance in creativity that’s needed. If you are technically very good, there’s a wealth of opportunities here in the industry.”

Having already helped reshape the industry in a mighty significant way, what still motivates the man?

“There’s almost never a total solution to the challenge of, ‘How do you get consumers to make a choice?’,” Fulgoni says.

“It’s a never-ending search for a solution. I find that to be particularly exciting – it drives me.”

This is segment is part of Beet.TV’s “Media Revolutionaries,” a 50-part series of interviews with key innovators and leaders in the media, technology and advertising industries, sponsored by Xaxis and Microsoft. Xaxis is a unit of WPP.

Fulgoni was interviewed for Beet.TV by David J. Moore, Chairman of Xaxis and President of WPP Digital. The interview took place in January at the W Fort Lauderdale.