Podcast: Jack Myers and Ed Erhardt on Data, Diversity and More

By Insider InSites Podcasts Archives
Cover image for  article: Podcast:  Jack Myers and Ed Erhardt on Data, Diversity and More

This is a special edition of Insider InSites:  A Legends & Leaders conversation with Jack Myers (above left), the Founder of MediaVillage and parent company MyersBizNet.  (You can hear more of his background and vision for the media industry in Episode 13.)  Myers described the discussion as, "commemorating decades of conversations on mutual beliefs about the future of the media and marketing business" with long time industry friend Ed Erhardt (above right), who was most recently President, Global Sales and Marketing for ESPN. Erhardt, who helmed sales for 20 years across all ESPN properties -- and has been recognized for founding the American Advertising Federation's multicultural marketing task force among other honors.

This wide-ranging discussion delved into everything from how data is changing the way brands build consumer relationships to how "data poets" are more important than "data scientists."  This topline transcript was edited for clarity as a preview of the full conversation.  For all their insights, from Myers' and Erhardt's takes on brand purpose to how legalized gambling could impact the industry -- as well as their banter (hey, they are both sports fans!) -- listen here, or anywhere you download your favorite podcasts:  SpotifyiHeartRadioGooglePodcastsAppleStitcherand TuneIn.

Jack Myers:  Ed, your background from print publishing and ad sales into television [led to] a really innovative approach to generating ad revenue -- seeing it in a broader context of marketing, beyond just the quantitativeNielsen ratings, but partnerships and collaboration – which is so prominent in sports.  Where are your greatest disappointments in terms of your own personal career, and more importantly in terms of the industry?

Ed Erhardt:  It's always nice to start with a question about your greatest disappointment!  Whether I was involved in the ad business or politics and government when I worked in Washington ... or clearly with ESPN and Disney, [they are] all industries of persuasion and can have a very positive impact on culture, on society and on people.  So, having those platforms to work with you always wonder, "Could I have had a bigger impact on things in a positive way than what I did?"  The advertising business is still to this day struggling to a degree with diversity and multiculturalism relative to how brands market and provide value.

Myers:  You grew up I would think as a New York Giants fan since your dad, Ron, won two Super Bowls with the Giants as an offensive coach with Bill Parcells.  So, who are your teams that you can root for now in your post-ESPN era?

Erhardt:  When you grow up as a coach's son you care a lot about Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays because those are the days that you either win or lose -- and it isn't really pleasure, it's business.  My dad won a heck of a lot more than he lost.  However, those days were always better when he won.  Three months after he retired from the NFL I get this job at ESPN, and what do I have to care about but Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays, although [then] the team I got was called Nielsen in the respect of that number I generally rooted for. 

Myers:  So much of our industry has gone to decisions being made by the keepers of the data, on the Nielsen side or ComScore, and buyers and sellers are coming together over a negotiation.  It seems to me that we've been moving away from the value of brand equity, true differentiation built on cultural relevance ... the affinity of audiences and the kind of passions you have in sports.  My sense is that it's been going in the other direction.  Do you agree?

Erhardt:  Mostly, except I think this is a time when there's an opportunity for a renaissance in brands, and they're going to matter more than ever -- because there's little room for multiple algorithms if they don't matter to you in today's consumer's mindset.  But in the end, what is a brand?  It's a relationship and it allows you to charge a premium on all sides of the coin, whether that brand is from Procter and Gamble on the high end of a men's grooming product, or something from General Motors or a media company.  I think that notion of brand relationship conversation and, most importantly, dignity and value, provides an opportunity now to reset.  It's exciting.

Myers:  If you take that opportunity, you have to change the data sources from a currency that measures impressions and cost of impressions, with procurement being the operative word in driving cost efficiency.  So, is it realistic to think the industry can shift to value results?

Erhardt:  I think you'll see a beginning attempt at that this year, actually, in the Upfront ... but I think the media that get in front of outcomes and are willing to hang it out there will be rewarded.  And I think to a large degree, the Facebooks and the Googles and the Amazons ... when they did Upfronts, which were generally done in Cannes in June, after the traditional folks did theirs in May, most of what they did was about outcomes.  That's why they shifted so much money their way.

Listen to the full conversation as Myers and Erhardt weigh in on:

  • What are, as Erhardt calls them, "data poets," and why do media companies need to recruit and nurture more of them versus just those that crunch information.
  • How those "poets" will begin to influence messaging and utilize the troves of data to have conversations with consumers.
  • Erhardt's advice for young professionals trying to break into media – and what specifically makes a great business athlete.
  • Should we ... can we ... disrupt the reach frequency curves that date back to the 1950s?  (Hint: "Why can't there be one pod available to find out whether addressability works or not?", Erhardt asks.

And finally, who does Erhardt root for now in his post-ESPN season?

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