Paid Attention: What You Don’t Know About Advertising Can Cost You


The book Paid Attention: Innovative Advertising for a Digital World challenges readers to question basic advertising assumptions to create better advertising.

Paid Attention

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The biggest concern among businesses of all types, is whether all of this advertising stuff still works. Advertising has never been a field where you got results with 100 percent certainty, but it offered dividends to people who followed the rules. It’s why companies like Kraft Foods and Apple spend millions on advertising for only a few seconds. These companies know that one ad can spark a big increase in their bottom line for days and maybe months to come.

Those were the good old days. Now advertising is a little more complicated.

Because of the increased pace of technology and businesses, consumers are now faced with more products and with that, more advertisements. As the number of products and advertisements has increased, consumers have responded with a decrease. Consumers are now more likely to skip advertising outright (unless it’s just amazing or a brand they know) or tune it out.

To add more fuel to the fire, consumers also express a growing distrust of the typical “Here’s why my product is better” and in-your-face advertising. They are more informed, more skeptical, and have more tools at their disposal to research and compare brands than ever before. They also have more products to choose from.

In other words, advertising is not like it used to be.

Rethinking Advertising 101 With “Paid Attention”

Faris Yakob, author of “Paid Attention: Innovative Advertising for a Digital World” argues that businesses need to totally redefine their basic assumptions about advertising if they are to survive. In his view, advertising is no longer about who pays the most money (though money helps) or who has the most viral cat video. Advertising is more about creating and maintaining a system designed to attract and grow a targeted set of customers which leads to a bigger bottom line. It takes into consideration human psychology, experimentation, and a new more collaborative approach with consumers than before.

His book definitely isn’t the first one to suggest this, however.The call to improve advertising for a new digital age has been announced by many marketing gurus for a couple of years now. What makes “Paid Attention” a little bit different is the focus on completely re-evaluating the basic assumptions of advertising and marketing. Yakob challenges anyone who advertises to really consider the mindset behind their advertising setup. He asks readers to consider:

  • What is a brand? (Hint: It’s not as complicated as most people perceive it, says the author.)
  • What are you really measuring in market research, real opinions or “people just playing nice”?
  • Why are people attracted to your advertisement?
  • How do people shop? (Hint: It’s a lot less rational than we assume.)
  • Should marketing be done using a funnel? 

Answering these questions points readers to that paradigm shift that “Paid Attention” argues will work in a world overflowing with calls for a consumer’s attention.

Is the Perspective in ‘Paid Attention” Worth Reading?

Yakob’s 200+ page book offers a challenging new outlook on advertising that confronts the realities of today’s rapidly changing marketing environment. His book (in sometimes rather snarky language) cuts straight into the heart of advertising. Most advertising advice books focus on a narrow set of topics as marketing recommendations that businesses can make to improve their advertisements, such as how to improve your Facebook impressions. “Paid Attention” asks readers to challenge the basic assumptions behind those recommendations.

As an example, “Paid Attention” actually steers readers away from the chase to get more Facebook Likes and Twitter mentions. Chasing these statistics can lead businesses away from focusing on the right thing, profitability. Chasing behind social media statistics or impressions is based on the assumption that consumers will buy a product or service simply because they follow the product on social media. The author challenges us to think this assumption further.

The strength of this book lies in its ability to challenge assumptions. That strength, however, overshadows the practicality. Yakob only reserves a small portion of the book to providing specific details on how readers can actually implement his principles and ideas. There are recommendations and suggestions (excellent, by the way) throughout the book, but there isn’t a cohesive plan in place. More attention should be given here, especially for businesses who may not have an advertising or marketing department. “Paid Attention” suggests, in several places, that the principles of advertising can be used by any business. But a little more time should be spent on just how that works.

Otherwise, “Paid Attention” is an interesting and challenging book that allows any person in charge of marketing or advertising a business to rethink their advertising system. If your business outsources advertising, Paid Attention will provide ways to analyze the effectiveness of your campaigns. If your business does advertising on its own, this book will allow readers to evaluate their current advertising and brainstorm unique approaches, if needed.

Note: “Paid Attention” was written for a British audience, so some of the case studies may refer to British products or services. There are plenty of American case studies as well, however. The principles can apply to any business.

About the Author

Faris Yakob is a consultant, writer, speaker, and owner of the company Genius Steals LLC. He can be found at his website ( or on Twitter (@faris). Paid Attention will be available on Amazon April 28, 2015.

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Charles Franklin Charles Franklin is a Book Reviewer for Small Business Trends. He has a background as a professional reviewer, and is also a content provider and customer relations professional.

6 Reactions
  1. I’m pretty offended by all types of advertising. I have actually changed my usual brand just because the advert that I was exposed to insulted my intelligence. I will buy from a company that does not advertise over one that does. My philosophy behind that is that if a product is superior, advertising is unnecessary.

    • Charles Franklin

      I understand your point. Word of mouth is stronger than anything a 3rd party will tell you about a product or service. That being said, advertising does have its place, especially when launching a product or new feature. The key is figuring out when to do this without drawing the inattention (or anger) of the potential customer!

  2. Charles:

    Have you read Stefan Engeseth’s book, The Fall of PR & the Rise of Advertising?

    • Charles Franklin

      If you have a version of the book written in the past 3 months, I would love to review it!

  3. Advertising has always been a tricky matter. You really have to test it if it will convert. Sure, you can make some assumptions. But nothing beats testing.