The best books on advertising and technology

Mark Bartholomew Author Of Adcreep: The Case Against Modern Marketing
By Mark Bartholomew

The Books I Picked & Why

The Voice Catchers: How Marketers Listen in to Exploit Your Feelings, Your Privacy, and Your Wallet

By Joseph Turow

Book cover of The Voice Catchers: How Marketers Listen in to Exploit Your Feelings, Your Privacy, and Your Wallet

Why this book?

Turow takes the reader on a fascinating dive into the evolution of the voice intelligence industry. He reveals what these devices do now, what they may do in the future, and where they come from. I loved the historical perspective in this book—today’s home smart speakers can trace their lineage back to department stores and debt collectors. With inside access to industry leaders, Turow shows how we got to the point where tens of millions now willingly admit commercial listening devices into their most private physical spaces.


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Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter

By Luke Fernandez, Susan J. Matt

Book cover of Bored, Lonely, Angry, Stupid: Changing Feelings about Technology, from the Telegraph to Twitter

Why this book?

This fascinating book combines in-depth present-day interviews with historical accounts to illuminate the similarities and differences in how current and previous generations view technology. The juxtaposition generates significant insights. The meaning of vanity, boredom, loneliness, and anger have all changed under the influence of smartphones and social media. Fernandez and Matt reveal how these innovations are not just changing our habits, but the very content of our emotional lives.


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Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerrilla Marketing

By Michael Serazio

Book cover of Your Ad Here: The Cool Sell of Guerrilla Marketing

Why this book?

Much of the advertising we see is not something that we can recognize as advertising. Marketing campaigns are orchestrated behind the scenes, influencing us through subtle product placement in films and television, paid mouthpieces made to appear to us like everyday strangers, and social media influencers with less-than-transparent relationships to luxury brands. This kind of advertising is not only effective in the moment, but it also succeeds in normalizing a culture of continuous selling. Serazio, a former journalist, is a skilled investigator and writer and it shows on every page.


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The Circle

By Dave Eggers

Book cover of The Circle

Why this book?

Sometimes fiction can do a better job of illuminating the stakes of our current moment than even the most in-depth reporting and factual analysis. In this fun and fast-paced novel, Eggers describes the activities of the Circle—the world’s largest search engine, social media platform, and e-commerce site all rolled into one. The book is filled with a battery of hilarious yet simultaneously chilling proposals for new apps that carry forward current trends while stripping away any notion of privacy, competitive balance, or trust in each other. Eggers’ Orwellian vision is laugh-out-loud funny yet all too real.


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Engines of Liberty: How Citizen Movements Succeed

By David Cole

Book cover of Engines of Liberty: How Citizen Movements Succeed

Why this book?

This book offers a blueprint for how to resist the intrusions of modern marketing. Cole, legal director of the ACLU and a former law professor, examines the successes of three modern movements for constitutional change. He adroitly traces the strategic choices made on the road to marriage equality, human rights in the war on terror, and a more capacious vision of the right to bear arms. Though dissimilar in their particular goals, these three social movements succeeded in producing sweeping changes in the law. Cole’s careful account is not only fascinating in its own right, but offers lessons for those who want to push back against the current landscape of ubiquitous advertising and commercial surveillance. 


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