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Exhibit A

We started Marketing Wise for the people who need marketing help the most–entrepreneurs, solopreneurs and small business owners trying to learn marketing strategies to improve their businesses, all while wading around in all sorts of bad and conflicting information. Recently, I had a lull in writing, creating other pages and tools for the site, while still taking notes for future articles. 

Today, though, I read an email from a well known professional in the marketing world (one of the best-known names in Marketing)–not a personal email, but a marketing email I received because I'm on this marketer’s email list. I subscribe to all sorts of marketing emails, and I read most of them–it helps me keep my finger on the pulse of marketing trends, news, tools, etc. That email, though, had me champing at the bit to get this published right away.

The email below is a prime example of a few things that are prolific in the marketing world–things that make us all look bad–it is misleading, confusing, and manipulative.

A screenshot of a marketing email.


"I did a ton of Google searches and looked at different websites to figure out where people are spending the most time.

And I found out that the saying “ROI is where the attention is” is wrong.

Because when you’re looking at the numbers, most of the attention is going to streaming services, social media, and email.

People, on average, spend more than two hours on these channels each day.

The least attention goes to search... people only spend about 15 minutes a day using search engines.

But get this:

Meta generated $131 billion in ad revenue in 2023.
Google generated $238 billion.
Ideally, you’ll do it all: SEO, paid search, social media ads, and email marketing.

But you definitely want to focus your attention on Google.

My team can show you how to invest your marketing budget in the most efficient way. Click here if you want to chat with them."


Information Asymmetry Exploitation

A picture of a confused owl.

“I did a ton of Google searches and looked at different websites to figure out where people are spending the most time.”

This is not a thing. There is no way to tell how long other people are spending on a site by merely doing searches and browsing around. What’s a ton? Which sites? How did you measure? What is “the most time” and what sites didn’t make the list? None of those questions have answers because it didn’t happen. The problem is that this marketer is using their readers' assumed lack of expertise against them--instead of helping and educating them.


Predatory Obfuscation

A picture of a scale showing a bag of money being heavier than the word "customers".

The goal here is to be vague, use incorrect or imprecise terminology, and confusing information to make a prospective customer feel like they need to listen to you for help, or feel like they need your service:

Time and attention are not the same thing–the terms aren’t interchangeable. The least amount of time is given to search (not 15min a day but more like 4min a day on average) but search is intentional–visitors are hyper-focused on finding an answer, a solution, or a product, and the search results have their undivided attention. It is a unique situation where paid ads represent those solutions that people are actively searching for. These aren’t ads appearing in the feed of videos and pictures of your friends and family–they are actual possible solutions to your specific queries–the attention they draw can not be measured in time–that’s like comparing apples and orangutans.

“Meta generated $131 billion in ad revenue in 2023… Google generated $238 billion.”
These numbers represent how much each platform made from advertisers. That is all. It means nothing within the context of the rest of the email. It’s only a measure of how much money businesses spent to advertise on the platforms–not how much advertisers made on each platform. It’s irrelevant. Further, the Google in that quote includes all sorts of things like over 60 billion in revenue from YouTube, Google Network ads, and more–not just search.


Content Appropriation

A cartoon image of one owl cheating off another.

“And I found out that the saying "ROI is where the attention is" is wrong.”

I hadn’t heard that before so I did a search for this “saying” and couldn’t find it anywhere, except exactly verbatim in one single source: A LinkedIn article by Vishal Thakur who looks to be a marketer in Singapore:

A screenshot showing the search result of a LinkedIn post.
The final issue I have with this email is that the idea and content are taken directly from another source. This echo-chamber effect is so common in digital marketing–so many people just repeat what they hear instead of researching, experimenting, and using critical thinking. And in this case, it’s even worse–the content is taken from someone working for an agency in Singapore, and used by a multi-million dollar business owner. But, it's also not even being used to help people; it was used to confuse and trick people.


Knowledge is power. Stay informed, question the sources, and never settle for confusing or misleading information. Subscribe to Marketing Wise for more insights and tools that help you cut through the noise.