Weekly Reading

I finally got around to finishing Traction by Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares last week, and I wasn’t super impressed. The central premise is an interesting one, quickly iterate on various marketing channels until you find one that can help you move the needle for customer acquisition, and then focus all your efforts on that. The primary problem is that so much of the channel specific tactics are now wildly out of date, particularly when it comes to digital.

Don’t get me wrong, there were, for me, a few valuable takeaways such as specific tactics for finding cheap offline advertising opportunities using remnant inventory, but overall I think you’d be wiser reading a more thorough and up-to-date marketing book if you want to focus on specific tactics.

Right now I’m ~200 pages into Peter Wilson’s The Holy Roman Empire: A Thousand Years of Europe’s History. It’s absolutely fascinating so far, more to come once I finish it.

Trust the French to do ridiculous things, this time they’re sending wine into space. In this case they’re hoping that the wine will become a collector’s item for sponsors of a company looking to conduct biological research in microgravity. As you do. Santé 🍷

Salary negotiation can often be a scary thing, but it doesn’t always have to be that way. Dylan shared this article on #emailgeeks a while ago but I finally got around to reading it, you should too.

GitHub’s sponsor program is now out of open beta. This seems like a great way for companies making use of open source software to give back to the people who make that software happen.

Fight Club (the movie) celebrated it’s 20th anniversary last month and with that came a number of critiques on the film’s lasting impact to society. I have to admit, I still love the movie and the soundtrack remains one of my firm favourites. Maybe the problem is that the movie didn’t end in the same way as Palahniuk’s book, and in that difference a significant amount of self-aware critique got lost in translation.

Open borders are a trillion-dollar idea, or so claims Bryan Caplan for Foreign Policy. His argument is a compelling one, which sadly will likely only be ignored by those who need to read it most.

But borders aren’t just a missed opportunity for those stuck on the wrong side on them. If the walls come down, almost everyone benefits because immigrants sell the new wealth they create—and the inhabitants of their new country are their top customers.

It was inevitable, but Uber are now in the ad business. I guess they’re desperate to help fill the billion dollar hole in their balance sheet from last quarter alone.

I guess that segues quite nicely into an article Tiffani shared on #emailgeeks on the subject of digital advertising. If you haven’t been paying attention, thanks almost entirely to Google and Facebook, the digital advertising industry is now worth more than $270bn annually and continues to grow. But what if it’s all a scam?

The experiment ended up showing that, for years, eBay had been spending millions of dollars on fruitless online advertising excess, and that the joke had been entirely on the company.

That reminds me that I should really brush up on my stats knowledge.

On the subject of Google and advertising, the Wall Street Journal released an excellent visualisation recently showing exactly how Google makes money from both sides of the advertising marketplace through Adwords, DoubleClick and AdX. With Google’s recent acquisition of Fitbit allowing them to hoover up private health information for hundreds of thousands of people, making their digital advertising black boxes even scarier to privacy conscious individuals.

In more positive news coming from the world of tech, Microsoft Japan trialed a four-day work week. They found employees were 40% more productive. I remain mildly hopeful that other’s will trial this too.