The Past Is Prologue: A Conversation With Jack Myers

The first time I really thought about that phrase -- "the past is prologue" -- was while reading a draft of a book Jack Myers wrote. I had just started working as editor of a daily newsletter I launched for Jack -- The Myers Report -- which we were distributing via a new, bleeding edge technology, the fax machine -- and Jack asked me to read the manuscript.

Up to that point, I had known Jack mainly as an ad industry researcher and consultant who pioneered the field of customer satisfaction studies based on interviewing advertisers and agencies about the media.

During the next five years, I learned more about how the media industry really works -- and sadly, how it does not -- than I probably have in all my years as an industry journalist.

Don't get me wrong, I never veered from my role and identity as a trade journalist during my years working for Jack, but because I worked so closely with him, I got privileged, behind-the-scenes access to some transformational projects he was involved in, including management consulting work that lead to the unbundling of U.S. media agencies, the emigration of Carat to the U.S., and the formation of the first truly bespoke advertiser media agency, GM Mediaworks.



Along the way, we helped architect Sony's foray onto the Internet, advised the first commercial online services, as well as the first attempts to trade media online (years before programmatic markets emerged).

I joined just as Jack was scaling the first -- and perhaps only-one-of-its-kind -- advertiser-owned television production studio (Television Production Partners) and witnessed how uncomfortable and powerful industry actors conspired to make sure it didn't gain traction. You can probably figure out who those actors might be, and up until now, I was bound by non-disclosure agreements from even referring to them.

In short, my five years working for Jack were like graduate school on how the ad industry really works, giving me unbridled access to how powerful industry players really think, including their hidden agendas and subjective motives that don't always lead to the best outcomes for their teams, their companies, clients or the industry-at-large.

The experience helped inform my role as an industry journalist, and I've tried to incorporate as much of that perspective into things like the criteria MediaPost uses to determine our annual industry awards. After my proprietary peek into how hard it is to actually manifest industry change, I don't think there is anything more award-worthy than the people and organizations that innovate the marketplace and demonstrate genuine leadership.

I'm not entirely sure what led to the above conversation with Jack, and why now -- a quarter century after working with him -- he decided to go on the record about it.

But during some recent correspondence, I detected a somewhat forlorn, almost regretful reference to some of the most important industry transformations he was involved in. So I suggested we have a video chat.

Watch it and find out why Jack Myers past truly was prologue for so much of what the ad industry is today.

2 comments about "The Past Is Prologue: A Conversation With Jack Myers".
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  1. Gabriel Greenberg from Octillion, January 5, 2024 at 12:08 p.m.

    Jack is brilliant and I too always learn from Jack!

  2. Jack Wakshlag from Media Strategy, Research & Analytics, January 13, 2024 at 6:26 p.m.

    Jack certainly outlines many challenges. The one key area that is of principal importance to me is leadership. There were so many brilliant leaders and risk takers across the businesses.  Hopefully bold leadership will find a way to rekindle innovation and real progress. 

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