In this episode we are challenging the current model of online advertising and making a case for the traditional methods advertising. Bob Hoffman is my guest, author of the popular blog The Ad Contrarian and has been named one of the most influential advertising bloggers by Business Insider. He’s been the CEO of two independent agencies and has worked with major brands such as McDonalds, PepsiCo, Bank of America, Toyota, AT&T and many more. Today he will explain why digital marketing is broken, what you need to know as a marketer today and why traditional marketing is not dead yet.
Listen to this Episode:
Topics Discussed in this Episode:
- Creating demand versus fulfilling demand
- Measuring customer cost acquisition on and offline
- Pitfalls of online advertising tech from ad blockers to ad fraud and data leakage
- Creating a new model for online advertising and regulatory movements in the EU
- The loss of healthy skepticism in digital advertising agencies
- Ethical consideration when choosing clients
- Bob’s advice to young marketers and his recommended resources
- The Ad Contrarian
- The Battle Begins (10/17/17) by Bob Hoffman
- BadMen: How Advertising Went From A Minor Annoyance To A Major Menace by Bob Hoffman
- Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey by Bob Hoffman
- 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising by Bob Hoffman
- Dave Trott’s Blog, Doc Searls Weblog, Rory Sutherland
- Bob Hoffman’s Website
Louis: Bob, I have a question for you. Before that, I must say I’m a little bit confused. I’m confused because I interviewed Seth Godin recently. Seth told me advertising is dead. Nobody buys from advertising anymore. You need to do a different type of marketing. Yet, I know for a fact that American people are exposed to between 4000 and 10,000 ads a day. If it was really dead, why are all of those companies still advertising?
Bob: It’s clearly not dead. That’s just marketing expert baloney that people are always saying. Look at Apple. Look at McDonald’s. Look at Coca-Cola. They have to advertise. It’s important. Advertising is not dead. It’s a lot of baloneys. If our economies were growing at the same rate as advertising expenditures, we’d be dancing in the streets.
Louis: Why do companies have to advertise then?
Bob: Because it works. Because that’s how people find out about brands. It’s through advertising.
Louis: Let’s talk about advertising in general. When I mean advertising is the so-called traditional advertising and then the online digital advertising. I would put them in the same bucket for the sake of this argument.
It works, companies are still using it. Obviously because it works. That’s how people hear about brands. But yet when I see online banner ads are clicked once every 1000 times, that contradicts it.
Bob: Yeah. There are all kinds of advertising. Some of it is effective. Some of it is not effective. Some of it is good for one thing. Some of it is good for another thing. My opinion is that traditional advertising is good for creating demand. Online advertising, particularly search, is good for fulfilling demand.
When the online advertising industry began, we thought that online advertising would be like traditional advertising, would be like television, radio, outdoor and print and that it would be good at creating demand. But what we have found is, at least in my opinion, it hasn’t been. If you walk through the largest supermarket in your neighborhood and if you walk through the largest big buck store and the largest department store and you look for brands that had been created by online advertising, I think you will find none. At least I can’t find any. But there are some online web-endemic brands that have been created to a large extent by online advertising.
But most of the brands in the world don’t live online. They live in stores. You have a very hard time walking through stores and finding any brands that have been built by online advertising. On the other hand, online advertising is pretty good at fulfilling demand. When you’ve decided you want to travel to Hawaii, what do you do? You go online and you look for the lowest price and you look for the good hotels and good airlines. This is a very generalized point of view. But in general, traditional advertising I think is good at creating demand. Online advertising is good at fulfilling demand.
Louis: How do companies measure the effectiveness of this traditional advertising? It’s traditionally difficult to measure. How do they know if it’s successful?
Bob: Traditional advertising is half science and half religion. You believe it or you don’t. That’s the religion part of it. The science part of it is if you’re a retailer, you know what kind of sales you’re getting. You can’t attribute every sale to every ad. But you know, in general, how your advertising is doing.
An example is in my agency we used to handle McDonald’s in certain regions. We had a terminal in our office that told us how sales were going on an hour by hour basis. We knew what media we had on the air at that time. We had a pretty good idea of what was effective and what was not effective. We would check our results daily and weekly and monthly. We knew, to a large degree, what advertising was effective and what was not effective. We knew it in the car business also.
We didn’t have click data for every click that happened like you do with online advertising. But in a general sense we knew what was effective and what was not effective.
Louis: I love this idea. I think one of the reasons why digital marketers are so against traditional advertising is because they cannot tell you that each customer costs $4.03 to acquire thanks to TV ads. It’s incredibly difficult to measure.
Bob: Yup. Yet we were able to do that. We knew what it cost us in media to acquire. We used to handle some work for Toyota. We knew about what the custom marketing per sale was. We had an approximate idea. But it’s not as directly attributable as online advertising claims to be. The problem is so much of what our clicks and so much of what our deemed traffic are fraudulent. People think they know what it costs. They think they know what the results are. They really don’t. Because there’s so much fraud.
Louis: Yes. Tell me a little bit more about this fraud. Just to explain to the listeners what is happening in the minute is that most of the traffic on internet is actually not human.
Bob: That’s right. I think about 52% of traffic on the web is now human. The rest are bots and scrapers and hackers. Not all bots are marveling. Not all bots are bad. Some of them have a purpose. But the amount of fraudulent bots, the amount of bad bots is staggering. It is believed now that at least $12 billion a year are being stolen by online criminals who are creating fraudulent clicks, fraudulent traffic and fraudulent websites.
Louis: Just to explain to the listeners here what’s going on. More than half, actually 54% of display ads never appear in front of a live human being, right?
Louis: Because more than half of the traffic is actually bots and non-human traffic.
Bob: The viewability issue is a different one from the fraud issue. What happens is 54% of ads are not seen by consumers. Because they appear either below the fold, in other words outside the range of the screen, or they don’t load on time. Someone leaves the page before the ad loads. Then there’s the fraud problem where publishers are stacking pixels in the ad frame. They’re stacking hundreds of thousands of pixels which are calculated as ad views but really aren’t.
Then there is the fraud issue where there are bots going to websites pretending to be viewers. There are bots clicking on ads pretending to be human beings. There are fake websites where advertising is being sent and nobody can see them because they’re not real websites. But the programmatic systems, the algorithms think they are websites. There are all kinds of viewability and fraud issues with online advertising.
Louis: This is quite bad. Which means for regular advertisers spending a small amount of money online, what you’re saying is really that the cost what you’re thinking you’re paying per click is actually much higher.
Bob: Maybe much higher. Not everything is fraud. There are some legitimate online advertising sites and networks. But you never know. Because of the programmatic systems, because the algorithms never know where your ads are running if you’re buying programmatically. That’s why we have this problem with brand reputation. We have the brand safety problem where ads are running on Jihadist websites, on Nazi websites, on pornographic websites. The advertisers can’t control it. Because the algorithms buy ads on the cheapest websites they can find. The cheap websites are often either they’re fraudulent or they’re terrible websites where no one wants to be.
Louis: Bob, in the next few minutes I’m going to challenge you a bit with a role play type of question by asking you how you would actually advertise a more specific company. But before that, I’d just like to dig into what you’d like and love to talk about the most, which is the marketing bullshit, advertising bullshit and what’s wrong with the industry, right?
Louis: What so-called best practices in advertising you think are plain wrong?
Bob: Let’s start at the beginning and talk about what’s going wrong particularly with online advertising. Because I think that’s where most of the problems are now. First of all, the public is so disgusted with online advertising that we have 600 million web-enabled devices that are armed with ad blockers now. This is unbelievable. 600 million devices with ad blockers on them.
We know that ad fraud is out of control. If you want to make a lot of money, get into the ad for a business, Hewlett Packard has a chart that’s amazing that shows that ad fraud has the highest return of any online criminal activity and essentially no one is ever prosecuted for it. It’s literally a license to steal money.
Let me give you an example. There was a new ad fraud called Fireball that was discovered in June. It had infected 250 million computers and 20% of all corporate computer networks worldwide. This fraud, this Fireball was capable of producing 30 billion fraudulent ad impressions a minute. If you told me they produce 30 billion fraudulent impressions a year, I would be shocked. But a minute? It’s beyond belief. The World Federation of Advertisers says that within eight years, ad fraud could be the second largest source of criminal income in the world after drug trafficking.
We discussed the problem of view-ability that less than half of all online ads are viewable. Interactivity has turned out to be a fantasy. For many years, online advertising was called interactive advertising. Until it became clear that no one was interacting with it. Then suddenly the term interactive disappeared. Now it’s called display advertising. But interaction with online ads is now reported to be about 5 clicks per 10,000 ads. You can’t get much closer to zero than that.
Bob: The idea that the same consumer who was clicking her remote on her TV to escape from ads was going to click her mouse to interact with them is going to go down as one of the great marketing fantasies of all time. Here’s another problem. Facebook and Google are getting 77% of all online ad dollars in the US. Just two websites. There are billions of websites. Just two of them are getting 77% of all the ad dollars in the US. They have become an arrogant duopoly. They have refused to abide by long-established standards of measurement and auditing.
They fill us. Particularly Facebook fills us with preposterous metrics. The metrics are so absurd that they’re laughable. I don’t know if you saw the recent articles about Facebook’s metrics. They claim that they can reach 41 million Americans between the ages of 18 and 29. Well there are only 31 million Americans of that age who exist. Yet they keep foisting these preposterous metrics on us. Credulous advertisers believe them.
The next bullshit thing is about the effectiveness of online advertising. Procter & Gamble who are the world’s largest advertiser recently cancelled over a $100 million in the second quarter of 2017. They cut over $100 million of online advertising from their quarterly spending. Their sales grew 2%. According to The Wall Street Journal here’s a quote, “The online ad cuts had little impact on Procter & Gamble’s business proving that those digital ads were largely ineffective.”
The waste in online advertising is horrific. According to The Guardian newspaper in the UK and confirmed by the World Federation of Advertisers, between 40% and 70% of online advertising dollars are scraped by middlemen. Marc Pritchard who is the chief brand officer for Procter & Gamble says that only $0.25 of every dollar he spends on online advertising ever gets to the consumer. 75% of it is scraped away by middlemen.
Another problem. Quality publishers are struggling to exist while the crappiest online sites get money that should be theirs. This is because of what’s called data leakage. What happens is quality websites, let’s say The New York Times website and advertisers on New York Times website. He tracks me if I go to The New York Times website he drops a cookie on me. He follows me to bikinibeachbabes.com website. Instead of paying a dollar to reach me on The New York Times website next time, he’ll pay a nickel to reach me on the Bikini Beach Babes website.
Louis: Bob, you shouldn’t go to Bikini Beach Babes website. I told you before.
Bob: I just do it for research purposes to see who’s advertising there. But that’s called data leakage. What it does is it takes the money that should be going to high-quality websites and delivers that advertising dollar to the crappiest websites. That’s the problem with programmatic buying and with ad tech.
The promise of programmatic buying is we will find you the highest quality eyeballs at the lowest price websites. In other words, the highest quality eyeballs at the shittiest possible locations.
Louis: Let’s talk about shitty websites a little bit. Just to illustrate your point.
Louis: One example would be those websites that tell you, “This recipe from my grandma helped my back so much. You won’t believe that it only takes two ingredients. Click here to find out those two ingredients.” Basically, bait. You go on this shitty website, you’re being fed 50 ads on one page. To find out the answer you have to click 50, 60 times. It serves you a new page for 50 times and serves you to shitty ads, right?
Bob: Correct. That’s exactly right. That’s why the public is so fed up with online advertising. That’s why 600 million web-connected devices have ad blockers on it. It’s harming the advertising industry. It’s harming quality publishers. It’s harming the public. It needs to be stopped. That’s one of the points of my new book.
It is that the current model of advertising needs to be changed. We need to develop a model of online advertising that allows people to enjoy the benefits of the web without being afraid and disgusted by the nature of online advertising. That’s what we need to do. Right now advertising is necessary to support most of the things we like about the web. But the nature of the kind of advertising we’re doing and the kind of tracking we’re doing and spying we’re doing on consumers is so obnoxious that people are blocking more and more of the advertising that really supports the things we like about the web.
Louis: What’s your proposed model?
Bob: The model should be that we buy online advertising the same way we buy traditional advertising. That is based on the reputation of the publisher. So that I buy my online advertising directly from The New York Times, directly from The Washington Post, directly from people who I trust and who have a good reputation rather than buying crappy, programmatically-driven ad tech based advertising that is based on spying on people, getting all kinds of information that we should not have, that should remain private and following them around the web, annoying them with “precision targeted advertising.”
Louis: Yeah. That will be an ideal scenario, wouldn’t it?
Louis: How do you think we could convince people who take the decisions to move from this model to this model?
Bob: It’s going to be up to consumers and regulators to do that. Remember, the two most powerful groups in the world when it comes to online advertising are Google and Facebook. They make billions of dollars a year based on tracking people and having information about people that they can sell to their advertising clients. They will never give that up without an enormous fight.
An enormous fight is about to break out in the European Union, in the EU. Because the EU has two regulations that are scheduled to go into effect in May. One called the GDPR and one called the ePrivacy regulation. These are very complicated. But in the short general version, what they will do is not allow online media, online publishers, online advertisers to collect private, personal information about individuals without that individual’s prior consent. That’s going to change the nature of how online advertising is done if it is adopted. It has not yet been fully adopted.
Google and Facebook and others are going to fight like hell to block it. They’re going to lobby the European Parliament like crazy to block these regulations. But if the regulators have any, may I say balls, on your podcast?
Louis: Please do.
Bob: If they have any balls, they’ll stand up to these people and they’ll say that the individual rights, the privacy rights of people and the security rights of people are more important than the convenience of marketers. I am hopeful that these regulations will go into effect. If they are successful, they will be adopted by other countries and become a universal rule. That personal, private information about us cannot be collected, distributed, sold without our permission.
Louis: That’s a nice future to prepare for. I’m hopeful that it will make changes, a big dance to the online world. It’s a good thing as well. I think that in Europe, you are not allowed to lobby directly politicians. In the US, companies can publicly give you $200,000 here just to support a specific cause. This isn’t the case in Europe. I hope that this will be a big difference.
Bob: Yeah. However, the lobbying has already started in Europe. A coalition of advertisers and the online media and online publishers have written a letter last week to the European Parliament members telling them why the privacy regulations is such a bad thing. It’s all bullshit. If you read my post on my blog today, you will see why I thought it was bullshit, why I say it’s bullshit. Nonetheless, there’s going to be a massive effort. They may not be able to give them direct money, but there’s going to be a massive effort to kill these regulations.
Louis: Please listeners, if you’re listening to this podcast, you can go to Bob’s blog post from October 17, 2017.
Louis: Bob, I want to move on to this bleak situation. I’ll challenge you with something.
Bob: Okay, yup.
Louis: Let’s imagine we have a tech company. We are selling an online software to do something, we don’t really know what. Maybe you will need to pick up an idea so that we can walk on it a little bit better. But for now, just a software. I challenge you. In this podcast, we usually talk a lot about tech online world, digital stuff. You’re an ad person. You’re a traditional advertising expert. If I challenge you, I give you let’s say $10,000.
Louis: Yes, only. I want you to give me a best bet and use this budget in traditional advertising as best as you can to get new customers. If I hire you as our CMO or head of advertising, where would you spend this money to sell software?
Bob: I would quit if I were your CMO with a $10,000 budget. I wouldn’t take the job. Look, it depends on what your software does, who you’re trying to reach and how large your market is. It’s like asking me, “How much does it cost to build a house?”
Louis: Okay. Let me rephrase. Let me give you more details. Let’s imagine we are selling to medium-sized businesses in the US mainly and medium-sized businesses that are accounting firms, that do accounting for their clients.
Louis: Is that enough of a target? Or do you want to go deeper?
Bob: Sure. Yeah, that’s fine. My target is the IT lead at an accounting firm, essentially. Is that correct?
Bob: Okay. Or the CEO or the CFO of an accounting firm who might make that kind of decision or might influence the IT lead to make that decision.
Bob: If I only got $10,000, I would go to the biggest conference. I would go to the American Accounting Association’s conference. I would sponsor a seminar. I would do a talk about it. I would avoid advertising. $10,000 isn’t enough in advertising to reach anyone that’s going to make a difference.
Louis: Okay. Let’s change the challenge a little bit. I know it’s tough. Let’s say we have a little bit more money. We have $100,000. Would that be better?
Louis: Instead of B2B, we are in a B2C market. Perhaps we are selling a software that helps you build your CV online.
Bob: Okay. I’m a copywriter. I’m not a media strategist. I don’t know the answer to that question. I would take it to my media department if was in the agency and tell them to give me an answer. That’s not what I do. I’m not a media strategist. I’m a copywriter who’s an observer. I’m not really qualified to make media recommendations. That’s why I’m going to whistle my way out of that.
Louis: I appreciate the honesty. Let me rephrase so that you can answer in a more effective way so you can help listeners. What would be your most successful advertising project you’ve been involved with? The one that you’re the proudest of. Not because it’s been the most effective but maybe because it’s the boldest, the more original one.
Bob: Yeah. I’ve had a couple that were very successful. One was here in California for Toyota. We started working with Toyota. They were the number four car brand in the region. After several years, we became the number one car brand in the region doing very successful advertising. As a matter of fact, that one point we had a 25% share of market which was astounding. I’ve had a number of successes with McDonald’s as well. We produced some new products that were done very successfully.
Louis: You need to tell me how you did this with Toyota. Can you give more details? What did you do?
Bob: Yeah. It was mostly television. It was a combination of television, radio, and outdoor, but primarily television. It was a combination of brand building style advertising and what we call the activation style advertising or price item advertising. It was not 100% of either. It was a mix that we came up with that turned out to be successful for this particular brand and for this particular product.
In every category, the mix of style of advertising is going to be different. Because some categories respond well to price item advertising, for example the fast-food industry. Some respond very well to brand style advertising, for example the financial industries. In each category, in each industry you’re going to have a different mix of styles of advertising. That’s what good media people and good strategy people can help you decide. In your category, what is the best mix of brand versus activation?
Louis: Okay. Bob, thanks for going through this exercise. I know it’s not easy to be put on the spot like this. Because to be clear to the listeners, I didn’t send you questions in advance.
Louis: I don’t like to do it. Because it’s much easier to have a conversation when this happens.
Louis: You’ve been named as one of the most provocative man in advertising. I think we got to do a sample of that. What surprised me as well is you used to be a Science teacher.
Louis: That went on to spend one year as the assistant of the California Academy of Science.
Bob: Yeah. I was an assistant to the executive director there for a year. I don’t really have a science background. I was a Science teacher but I never really knew anything about science. I was a terrible teacher. That’s one of the reasons I left the teaching profession because I wasn’t really very good.
But being around scientists and being around the scientific method made me skeptical of a lot of what I heard when I got into advertising business. Because what I noticed was we thought we do a lot of things but we didn’t really have the facts. What we had were the opinions and assertions of “experts” masquerading as facts. Consequently, I became very skeptical of what I saw and what I heard. I didn’t believe anything that could not be supported by facts. I still don’t.
One of the remarkable things to me about what’s happened in recent years in the agency business is that we have lost our skepticism. The agency business used to be one of the most skeptic. Agency people were very skeptical. You tell them something they’ll say, “Oh yeah? Prove it. Show me. Let me see.” All of a sudden, the online industry came riding into town with a lot of pseudo-techno baloney and the agency business and the marketing industry just bought into it without skepticism.
Now we’re seeing the results of that. There’s so much that is going wrong. We’re just starting to learn about it. All the problems of being opaque and non-transparent, all the problems of kickbacks and rebates, these are things that have been going on for a long time. I wrote about them years ago. All the problems of brand safety I wrote about years ago. Nobody cared until recently, until the last year or so. It’s been remarkable to me how we have suspended our skepticism about what we’ve been told by the online advertising industry and the online media industry.
Louis: Bob, you also wrote quite a lot of books. The most recent one is BadMen: How Advertising Went from a Minor Annoyance to a Major Menace.
Louis: You also wrote Marketers Are From Mars, Consumers Are From New Jersey and the 101 Contrarian Ideas About Advertising.
Louis: As you mentioned a few times, you’re also the author of the popular ad contrarian blog which was named one of the world’s most influential marketing and advertising blogs by Business Insider. Before that you also had two independent agencies.
Louis: You worked with McDonald’s and Toyota and Pepsi Cola and Bank of America and AT&T and all of that.
Louis: Hear me out, Bob.
Louis: There’s something that surprised me a little bit from you, I have to say. It’s a little bit contradictory. You’re a contrarian person, a little bit like me. You’re skeptic. You care. You definitely care. You give a shit about the cause that you fight for. You like to fight certain battles.
Louis: What surprised me the most when I read more about you and your profile is that you accepted to create ads for products that are more than average, should I say quite bad for people’s health? I’m going to mention McDonald’s as an example. Why did you accept to create ads for them? What was the thinking behind it?
Bob: I am not a moralist in the sense that I’m going to decide for people what they should eat and what they should do with their lives. That’s not my job. As a person who works in the advertising business, there were some things I wouldn’t do. I didn’t do advertising to children, I felt bad about that. I didn’t do cigarette advertising which is clearly detrimental.
In the world, there’s a lot of gray area. If you’re going to be in the advertising business, you have to suspend some of your personal beliefs sometimes to do what’s best for people who are your clients. I agree with you that there are some negative aspects to working with some of the clients I worked with. They weren’t all pure and wholesome. I accept responsibility for that.
But I had people on my staff who had families and houses. You do get up on your high moralistic course. I could do that and say, “You know what? I’m not going to advertise for McDonald’s anymore because they sell Coca-Cola. It has too much sugar in it. It’s not healthy for us.” I can get up on my high horse and resign from the McDonald’s account. I’m not going to lose a job, but 25 people in my agency are going to lose jobs. Their families are not going to have revenue. They’re not going to be able to pay the mortgage on their house or the payments on their cars.
You have to balance your own particular morality with your responsibility to people who work in your company. It’s not an easy balance. It’s not easy to do. There were many times when I wanted to resign a client because I felt they were either abusive or I didn’t like them personally. I did it because it wasn’t going to harm me. It was going to harm other people. These are very difficult decisions to make.
I don’t think people who work in the agency business really understand how burdensome these decisions can be in an independent agency where you’re struggling to stay afloat everyday of the year. You’re not backed up by WPP or Omnicom. You’re on your own everyday. You have people who rely on you for their livelihoods. It’s a burden. I never took it lightly. Maybe I made some decisions on ethics that were not completely wholesome. But I did what I thought was the best to do on those circumstances.
Louis: Bob, I appreciate your honest answer. I like to tickle my guests a little bit with some questions.
Bob: That’s okay. No. You know what? I like people asking me hard questions. Because it makes me think about what I do and what I’ve done and whether I’ve been right or wrong.
Louis: Maybe you could come up with a story from your childhood or adult life or whatever it is. But do you think you have a story that summarizes why you are the way you are? Why you like to take this contrarian approach to things and this skeptic approach?
Bob: Yes. It was part of my upbringing. I was brought up in New York City. I lived in what is called the Project which is a housing development. My family, my aunts and uncles, and cousins, we all live on the same block. They were very smart people and very challenging. Sunday afternoons, very often the whole family would get together. We would sit there. If you dared to say anything that was in the least bit pompous or self-serving or self-important, you would get cut down so fast. They didn’t even have to say anything. They’ll just look at you and you knew, “Uh-oh. I just sounded like a real asshole.”
That kind of cutting through the bullshit was drummed into me at a very early age. I became very sensitive to it. I think that has stayed with me. As a result I am very skeptical. I’ve always had a rebellious streak in me. If people now were saying that the online advertising is hard or it’s the worst thing in the world, I’d be saying it’s the greatest thing in the world. That’s just the way I am. I have a rebellious streak in me that somehow I’ve never been able to extinguish.
Sometimes I’ve had to tamp it down. When you’re running an ad agency, as I was saying before, you can’t always say what’s really on your mind, particularly to your clients. Clients want to believe certain things. It’s very hard to dissuade them from their beliefs sometimes. If you’re asking me how I got to be the way I am, that’s probably how I got to be how I am.
Louis: That’s a great story. Thanks for sharing this as well.
Louis: What do you think marketers should learn today that will help them in the next 10 years, 20 years or 50 years?
Bob: What they need to learn is number one, to question everything. Don’t accept anything anyone tells you at face value without confirming it. We have become too gullible.
Number two, circumstances change, technology changes, gadgets change but people stay the same. What motivates people is what has always motivated people. That is people want to feel good. If your product helps people feel good and you can explain that in a way that is interesting, you will do well.
The third thing marketers have to learn is that creativity is extremely important in marketing. That data may be interesting and it may be useful but creativity is what drives consumer demand. People react emotionally to advertising and marketing. That is never going to go away. For the past 10 years or so, we have undervalued creativity in the advertising and marketing world. We need to get it back to its proper position in our industry.
Louis: What are the top three resources you would recommend marketers in particular that could be a book, a blog, a webinar, a seminar, whatever?
Bob: I would read the work of Dave Trott. I would read the work of Doc Searls. I would listen to Rory Sutherland, what he says and what he writes. Do you know who those guys are? Should I give you more information about them?
Louis: Yeah, briefly. All of them, briefly for the listeners.
Bob: Dave Trott is a creative, brilliant guy in the UK. He lives in London. Rory Sutherland is I think vice-chairman of OgilvyOne in the UK. Doc Searls is a brilliant guy who is very interested in the problems of tracking and surveillance marketing and ad tech. He was one of the writers of The Cluetrain Manifesto. He also wrote The Intention Economy. If I wanted to get a sense of what’s real and what’s important in marketing and advertising, those are three people I would pay attention to.
Louis: Thank you. Thanks for playing the game today in this interview. I know I didn’t ask you just easy questions. But this is the point of this podcast.
Louis: Lastly for you, Bob.
Louis: Where can listeners connect with you, learn more from you, contact you?
Bob: My blog is called The Ad Contrarian. You could find it at adcontrarian.com. My newsletter is written almost every Sunday morning. You can subscribe to my newsletter at one or two places. Either on The Ad Contrarian blog page or on my website which is called bobhoffmanswebsite.com. You can also read my new book which is called BadMen: How Advertising Went from a Minor Annoyance to a Major Menace. It’s about the dangers of online tracking and surveillance marketing and ad tech. How it’s dangerous to the public, how it’s dangerous to us as individuals and how it’s dangerous to the ad industry.
Louis: Bob, once again, you’ve been brilliant. Anything you want to add before we stop this episode?
Bob: No. I just want everyone in marketing to calm down and relax and enjoy a little. Everyone’s so fucking serious these days. Geez. Enjoy what you’re doing. Have fun with it. It’s important.
Louis: Alright. Perfect way to end it. Bob, once again thank you so much.
Bob: Louis, thank you.
I’m a no-fluff marketer living in Dublin, Ireland (but yeah, I’m French).
I believe you can treat people the way you’d like to be treated and still generate results without using sleazy, aggressive, hack-y marketing. This is why I’ve started Everyone Hates Marketers – a no-fluff, actionable marketing podcast – as a side project in April 2017.
I’m also the Content Lead at Hotjar – a powerful way to analyse people’s behaviour on your website or app and understand how you can improve their experience.