The Wisdom Of Two Bobs, And How It Shapes My View Of The Digital World.


“You know something is happening here,
But you don’t know what it is…
Do you, Mr. Jones?”

                                                                          Bob Dylan

In my world, a lot of things are explained by a couple of Bobs I know.

Bob Dylan & Bob Hoffman

My affinity to Bob Dylan comes rather naturally since he was one of the first influences in my creative life. He was the guy who first made me realize how powerful a means of expression writing could be.

And about two years after discovering and absorbing his early wisdom, i.e. becoming a serious fan, I started the process of becoming a writer myself.

Bob Hoffman is someone I came across much later, literally last year when I started reading his posts on LinkedIn, then subscribed to his Type A Group newsletter.

Both of these Bobs have strongly held opinions about things, many of which I share.

The Dylan View

Bob Dylan has a view of the world that cuts right through all the bullshit and gets down to what is really going on. A few people think of me the in same way and I’m extremely proud of that.

Bob Dylan understands and, in a very intelligent way, communicates this to people who are smart enough to get metaphor, irony and symbology and all the other linguistic sleight of hand skills he employs.

He can write a love song that is political and a political song that is all about love. Not many people possess his level of genius. And this is something I greatly admire and also learn from.

The Hoffman View

Bob Hoffman, is a marketer like me. But like the other Bob, his ability to see the world of marketing for what it really is is off the charts.

He does this in what’s known as a contrarian fashion, which I find it quite disarming and extremely clever.

Like the other Bob, not everybody has the intellectual capacity to know where Mr Hoffman is coming from all the time.

But I do. I get it.

Some people would be willing to write off his observations because they don’t really fit their agenda, or the view of marketing that they currently hold.

These people have drunk the digital marketing KoolAid that started being dispensed by the advertising business, the digital marketing business and its supporting press almost a decade ago now, and actually shapes a lot of opinions and agendas.

But that doesn’t really seem to bother Bob Hoffman. Because, unlike many of digital marketers, who are basically painting a very rosy picture of the Internet as ‘the place to be’ for businesses of all kinds, Bob is quick to point out that the facts…you know, the stuff we depend on to make smart decisions…the facts simply do not support a lot of the digital narrative.

The Proof In In The Pudding

The following is a list of some of those facts that Bob was kind enough to let me use here. And as Bob states in his preface to these facts, they do, indeed reflect information that is not what you would call widely available.

Of course, this makes sense when you consider that they do little to further the agenda of the Internet powers that be, and we all know who they are from Facebook on down:

1.    Over 95% of all video viewing is done on a television. Less than 5% is done on a web device. (Nielsen Total Audience Report, Q3, 2015)
2.    The rate of engagement among a brand’s fans with a Facebook post is 7 in ten thousand. On Twitter it’s less than 4 in ten thousand. (Forrester Research)
3.    Fewer than one person in a thousand clicks on a standard banner ad. (DoubleClick)
4.    E-commerce accounts for 6.8% of retail sales in the U.S. (US Dept of Commerce, Q3, 2015)
5.    Over half the online display ads paid for by marketers are unviewable. (Wall Street Journal)
6.    Fewer than 2% of retail transactions happen on a smart phone. (US Dept of Commerce and Internet Retailer)
7.    Only 38% of traffic on the web is human. (CNET)
8.    One “bot-net” can generate 1 billion (yes, with a b) fraudulent online ad impressions a day. Nobody knows how many “bot-nets” there are. (Yahoo)
9.    Half of all U.S online advertising dollars may be lost to fraud. (Adweek)
10.    Americans spend more time watching TV than all other leisure activities combined. (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Now I don’t expect this to radically alter anybody’s view of the marketing world.  But, if nothing else, it should serve as a bit of a warning against going all in on plans and programs that involves the Internet without a bit of due diligence.

The Murray View

I have always strongly maintained and have been quite public about my distrust of a great deal of what many digital marketers have to say.

Mainly for the same reasons as Bob Hoffman, and in a way Bob Dylan too.

My job, as I see it, is to provide my clients with the best advice about how to communicate to their target audiences. It is not to be a servant to any particular media, especially those that do not possess the potential for a return on investment greater than the investment itself.

It would be irresponsible to behave in any other way. Yet millions and millions of dollars are being poured into low yield digital media every day of the year. And many of those dollars could, without a doubt, be put to much more effective use elsewhere.

Now I didn’t just fall of the turnip truck. I understand that the Internet is still in its infancy. But I also know know that it has a hell of a long way yet to go before it can be considered truly viable in the same way as a lot of other media currently can.

So until that day, my opinion is that it’s very much a caveat emptor situation.

The Learning

In today’s world,  the strategic and communication planning process is much more important than it has ever been. There are too many choices for clients these days, too many ways to throw money into Black Holes, and too many Black Hole operators.

Do your homework. Find out the reality of the situation before you jump into any digital medium. Demand proof that there is a good possibility of ROI before you sign on the dotted line.

And if your not sure, don’t do it. Because, believe it or not, there is still, as you can see from Bob Hoffman’s points, real viability in some of the tried and true media.

Hope this has been helpful.


I have  been a writer pretty much all my life. For most of my adult life, including now, people actually pay me to do it. They pay me to art direct a lot of the stuff I write too. I am also a mentor, blog post editor and a pretty decent photographer.

I write to help people and companies large and small with their marketing and I blog primarily to help people get better at communicating. In today’s world, that’s almost a public service.

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Text Copyright © 2016 by Jim Murray, Bob Hoffman & Bob Dylan
All Rights Reserved. Images Credits: Jim Murray, Type A Group
Find out more about Bob Hoffman @



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