Note: I wrote this in one go a year ago — March 16, 2019. I petered out towards the end and had a bunch of notes at the end. …

Previous lists: 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015

The totals: 58 books, 31 by women for 53%. 295 Albums. 37 live acts. 62 movies. 26 TV Series.

Changes from last year: -7 books, +26% on proportion of books read by women. +35 albums over last year. +17 Live Acts. +7 movies. -5 TV Series.

And, of course, I have a weekly podcast where I go over my media consumption (along with other mundane aspects of being alive).


  • Media consumption seems to be rebounding some more from the early baby days, except TV. Watching less TV.

In the style of Soderbergh:

BOLD CAPS MOVIES, CAPS TV, Italics Books etc., “Plays Quotes”, “Italic Quotes Short Stories”,Bold LC Albums ,BOLD ITALIC CAPS LIVE SHOWS, [comments in brackets], podcast bold all lower case underlined

1/1 — Teeth of the Sea — “Master,” HARRY POTTER AND THE PHILOSOPHER’S STONE (re-watch)

1/2 — Phosphorescent — “Muchacho De Lujo, Live @ St Pancras Church,” Phosphorescent — “A Hundred Times or More” HARRY POTTER AND THE CHAMBER OF SECRETS (re-watch)

1/3 — The Undoing Project: A Friendship that Changed our Minds by Michael Lewis


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When you apply the economics to advertising you learn some interesting things. Things that have profound ramifications for us in how advertising effects us — as individuals and as a society.

There’s been plenty written out there about what advertising means, about how it makes us feel. There have been cultural evaluations, phycological tomes, books written about the brilliant creative campaigns made by the Mad Men and Women of the industry. This isn’t a about how advertising makes us feel. This follows the money. Seems like an obvious exercise, right? You’d think the people who spend more than $200 billion dollars a year would delve into the economics of their industry. And they sort of have, but not really. They’ve been laboring under false assumptions. Economists — these days armed with scientific tactics involving studies of large pools of data and a new commitment to actually talking to people, instead of just jotting theories down to paper — have made attempts at setting the record straight. …

Rough totals: 260 albums, 20 live acts (so sad), 55 new movies, 31 TV series, 65 books.

This is about the tenth year I’ve kept this list in one form or another. You can also check out the 2017 list, 2016 list, 2015 list. Before that they were on LJ and that shit is locked so deep it’ll never be found. Except by the Russians.

Changes from last year: 140 or so fewer albums, 25 fewer live acts, 20 fewer new movies, one more book, 8 fewer tv series. Less media consumption in general.

And, of course, I have a weekly podcast where I go over my media consumption (along with other mundane aspects of being alive). …

I’m sorry I was wrong. We all were.*

Last night, as I was falling asleep after a lovely Christmas, a thought popped into my head. …

Digital has ignored the theory of signaling — to the detriment of both advertisers and society. Where a customer is, is crucial.

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Photo: Shutterstock

In a column of January of this year, journalist Walt Mossberg relayed a story that probably sounds all too familiar to many publishers:

About a week after our launch, I was seated at a dinner next to a major advertising executive. He complimented me on our new site’s quality and on that of a predecessor site we had created and run, I asked him if that meant he’d be placing ads on our fledgling site. He said yes, he’d do that for a little while. And then, after the cookies he placed on Recode helped him to track our desirable audience around the web, his agency would begin removing the ads and placing them on cheaper sites our readers also happened to visit. …

The math’s not pretty on digital advertising’s future revenues. That could mean a massive devaluation for both Google and Facebook.

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Let’s do a thought exercise.

How much is Google worth? Today, its market cap — the total value of the company — was just over $690 billion. It is the largest media corporation in the world, earning $79 billion on media revenue out of a total of $90 billion in overall revenue. Eight seven percent of Google’s revenue comes from advertising. All the cool stuff you hear about — the self driving cars, Google Fiber, Nest, Verily, Calico Labs, Google Ventures, Google X — made less than $809 million — far less than one percent of total revenues.

And what about Facebook? Their market cap is just over $500 billion. They earned about $17 billion through advertising in 2015. They made a total of $18 billion in revenue that year, putting the percentage of their revenue from advertising at 95 percent. …

We’re close to solving advertising’s fundamental challenges. But the solution — building an entire city from scratch — is audacious.

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In our last column, we talked about the twofold challenges in solving Wanamaker’s dilemma, and why the ad tech we’re currently building won’t get us there. The challenges are:

  1. Attribution: Which ad (or ads) put a consumer over the top and convinced them to make a purchase

In looking at these two challenges, the first obviously presents the larger challenge. The potential solutions that get the most press these days are digital solutions: ad tech monitoring and reporting solutions from companies like Google, Facebook or, starting to think about the physical world, companies like Foursquare and Placed (now owned by Snapchat). The problems with these solutions are clear: they exist in a digital ecosystem, separate from where the big ad dollars are spent: on television. And, of course, given that we relied on them for nearly a hundred years, and that hundred years was a time of great advertising success, it would be unwise to discount print and outdoor ads as well. A truly perfect attribution system would have to not only tell us which internet ads worked, but which TV ads worked, along with radio, billboards, urinal ads, celebrity sponsorships, product placement in movies and more. …

Why ad tech won’t be the internet’s savior in its battle for television dollars.

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Well that’s simple, isn’t it? Source: Luma Partners

When it comes to the promise of the internet conquering advertising and solving Wanamaker’s dilemma of “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted, the problem is I don’t know which half,” the internet’s main weapon in its arsenal has always been advertising technology, known in the industry as simply “ad tech.” The improved technology of advertising was to be the secret weapon that would bring additional efficiency and solve Wanamaker’s dilemma. To this day, financiers and other bullish proponents of the internet claim that all of the ad money spent in our economy will inexorably migrate over.

While the internet has recently begun to expand past its advertising roots, advertising dollars still comprise a massive share of all internet-related revenue — to the tune of over $200 billion worldwide. Moreover, advertising shapes the very products of the internet. As we’ve mentioned before, ad spending has exceeded VC investment in the internet every year since 2001. …


Rick Webb

author, @agencythebook, @mannupbook. writing an ad economics book. reformed angel investor, record label owner, native alaskan. co-founded @barbariangroup.

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