Buzzwords, Busters and Brand Whisperers

DBC President Bill Daddi recently spoke on the ADOTAT with Pesach Lattin podcast:

Welcome, welcome, dear viewers, to another electrifying episode of The ADOTAT Show, apply named “How to Win at #adtech Without Selling Your Soul,” we cut through the clutter of marketing mumbo-jumbo with the precision of a laser-guided missile. Today, brace yourselves as we unleash the irreverent and unfiltered wisdom of Bill Daddi, the maverick CEO and Founder of DBC Brand Communications.”

Click below to watch the video or scroll down for the transcript of the conversation. 

[“ADOTAT with Pesach Lattin” podcast]

[originally posted to YouTube March 25, 2024]


Pesach Lattin: Welcome to the ADOTAT show where today we’re diving into the confluence of marketing, PR and adtech with industry expert Bill Daddi of DBC [Brand] Communications. Get ready for an insightful exploration into the fusion of these pivotal fields, unlocking strategies that define successful brand communication in our digital world. Join us and know more than you did yesterday.


Welcome to the ADOTAT show folks I am Pesach Lattin at the helm, joining us today is Bill Daddi, the brains behind DBC Brand Communications. So, Bill, how is it really going with the ever-turbulent world of adtech and marketing? Have you stumbled on the serene oasis are you just holding on like the rest of us?

Bill Daddi: We’re chugging along, I think. One of the great things about our little industry is that it is constant change and transformation and you need to try to determine how to best engage with end users. For us as an agency, whether the market is up, whether the market is down, there’s always need to engage and need to communicate more effectively. So, for us it’s been great. We have no complaints. It’s an interesting niche to be a part of.


PL: How does DBC Brand Communications get noticed to claim that they have the best revolutionary solution? How does DBC Brand Communications ride into town and not just get noticed but become the sheriff?

BD: Well, I appreciate being the sheriff, it’s always a good position to be in. I think what we’ve been able to do here is have a unique focus on adtech, marketing and insights – it’s all we do. So, we don’t have travel accounts or have cannabis accounts, this is all we focus on and it does have so many unique characteristics as an industry. And obviously requires good in-depth understanding of data of analytics of platforms, and that’s what the agency represents. And I think just our longevity – we’ve been at this now since 2005 – having seen so much change within the industry, being connected with so many people. We’re kind of in a unique vantage point when we speak with different segments of the industry that we represent; you’re a data provider you’re a platform, you’re an analytics company, they tend to see their unique part of the world. I think because we represent such a broad swath of associations and companies within the industry, we could see it from more of a unique vantage point and understand exactly how the pieces are fitting together and I think more importantly the direction where things are heading and how they’re evolving. And I think that’s the basis of the counsel we’re able to provide and help people engineer perceptions that are going to help drive their business. So, I think it’s unique from that perspective.


PL: How do you find the genuine gold mines for clients’ perspective how do you sift through the “buzzword bonanza” and find the genuine gold mines for clients?

BD: Well, we try to avoid the “buzzword bonanza” and the “acronym jungle” that’s out there. Ultimately what we’re trying to help our clients do is better understand their end user or their targets’ needs or concerns. And we’re very much of the perspective that when you go forth with marketing, it’s not about beating your chest or hanging your shingle out there, it’s trying to identify in a unique and proprietary way that you understand the challenges, the concerns that your end users have, and help guide our clients to take their marketing promotion initiatives from that perspective. Speak more about the target than about yourself to fulfill what really is the true role of marketing, which is to foster engagement through establishment of relevance. And I think it’s hard sometimes for folks within this industry, there is a tendency to want to go out with the “game-changer”, “first to market”, “groundbreaking”-type stuff, and ultimately, that may or may not be true. I don’t think the end user has a great ability to validate that independently. Where people are coming to market because they have concerns, they have problems, they have challenges, and they want to work with entities that they feel uniquely understand what those challenges are and it’s best from a marketing promotion perspective to go forth with that rather than go forth with jargon that creates barriers and frictions with your end users or utilization of acronyms that, in reality, a lot of people just don’t understand what the hell you’re talking about.


PL: Right. I would say that that, “We have more echo than a yodeling contest in the Grand Canyon.” So, how do you ensure that it’s not just another echo?

BD: Again, it’s got to be predicated based upon an understanding of the target. And we counsel people to spend a lot of time before you go forth with marketing, on both primary and secondary research, speak to the internal stakeholders, speak to your external stakeholders; get a really firm sense of exactly what your specific end user or target is facing – what they need – so you can understand what is going to be relevant for them. And ultimately that’s going to be the great differentiator, because the function of marketing is to bring people into a conversation with you. You can’t really establish full education, full product differentiation based upon marketing, people having limited time and attention. Most of the marketing that’s out there is a lot of sameness, so there’s no differentiation. The way that you want to be able to really differentiate and build that predisposition towards preference is, again, by reflecting what your target is really facing in their business.


PL: Yeah, I’ve heard more recently that a lot of the problems with adtech, marcom is that it doesn’t try to solve a problem. That people just are saying, “I hired so and so” or “I have this new product,” but they don’t identify what the problem is and how the adtech promotes it. Can you share a tale where DBC outsmarted in adtech duel with nothing but your wits?

BD: No, well we can’t speak to specific client work, certainly, but – let me give you a small example. We have a company that is doing fantastic work in helping entertainment and sports talent deal with the issue of deep fakes. They’ve got a great technology, but as with many emerging-type of platforms and brands, it’s difficult to get people to focus on what you’re offering and to take them through, product education if you would. So, rather than going forth and just saying, “Hey, we’d love to tell you about this,” we just did a very small thing for them: established a webinar that spoke to the challenges and opportunities that are being faced in AI talent utilization. And the specific reason for doing that was not just to produce great content to explore a topic that is complicated and very important, but it provided value to the end users that they were looking to engage with because we were able to reach out to them not at a time where we’re marketing a promoting, but inviting them to provide their perspective in thought leadership participation in a webinar. So, a very simple technique, much more focused on delivering value to the people that they’re looking to engage with. And by virtue of doing that then all those end users who participated within the webinar were receiving an education about our client as well, too. So, it’s ultimately trying to identify what can we do through marketing, through promotion that not only informs, provides education, but provide some type of value to the party that you’re looking to engage with. So, it doesn’t require a lot of money to be spent but just requires some thought in terms of “How do we get this into a more reciprocal relationship whereby yes, we want to educate you about our product, our platform? We want to do something of real value to you. We want to put it in a situation whereby it’s not purely just promoting to you, but something that has a bit more meaningful relationship and conversation.”


PL: How do you balance the scales between innovative advertising technologies and the art, the old age art of building genuine brand connections?

BD: I think it’s difficult within this industry and with this environment to establish genuine connections with the brand because a lot of what you were discussing can be rather relatively complex. I think a lot of end users get lost quickly within technology. I think a lot of folks are not terribly transparent in terms of methodology so it ends up creating some friction with the end users. And I think the best way to go about it is what you were referring to, is identification proactively for the end user as to what problem we are solving. There’s too much of a tendency, as you said, to go to market saying here’s what we do here’s what we offer and putting the owners upon the audience that you’re looking to communicate to make the connection as to how that is going to help their business. I think that brand differentiation and brand preference that could be developed really has to come from clear communication and articulation of here’s how we’re going to help you solve a problem, here’s how we’re going to help you advance your business, and once that connection is made then you could provide the education in terms of exactly the mechanics of how we’re going to go about that. But you can’t put something out and hope people make that connection to understanding how it’s going to address those specific problems.


PL: The data-driven narratives I think of the industry are as dry as a vermouth Martini. So, how do you shake up a story that doesn’t need a chaser?

BD: Yeah, well, I mean, again, data in abstract can be very difficult to connect to. And let’s face it: even though we’re in a B2B environment, we’re still obviously marketing to human beings. And we hear over and over again when we do some of the research we do for brand platform development work, that the end user either doesn’t really understand data technology that’s being provided to them, or that they’ll listen to a very rational argument as to why it might be superior data or superior platform and then they make a purely emotional decision. The typical situation is when you’ve got a category that has traditional market leaders then you get challenger brands and they have an incredible approach to solving a problem. But the end user will go with category leader and primarily for the reason of they don’t want to be criticized for being wrong. So, I think it’s important to keep in mind that while a lot of the arguments that are made can be made on methodology, on innovation and technology, on quality of data, it’s still human beings making decisions. And they tend to make emotional decisions as much as rational reaction to rational arguments. So, it’s very important that we don’t divorce ourselves from some of the principles that work in B2C marketing when we’re talking about B2B marketing. Understand really what are going to be those triggers towards seeing a particular data provider or technology platform as being uniquely relevant and understanding what those emotional drivers are going to be. Because again, it’s a very complex marketplace. I think there’s a lot of confusion out there. I mean, we regularly at conferences hear people saying things up on panels that we know are not quite right. I think everyone is ultimately being human beings, reluctant to identify that they may not understand something. People don’t really say, “I don’t know what you’re talking about, I don’t understand this”. It leads to a lot of misconceptions and confusion out there in the marketplace, it makes it more difficult for marketers as a result.


PL: How do you combat the innovation inflation ensuring that solutions are both fresh and factual?

BD: Not everything can be an innovation. Innovation is often incremental rather than monumental.

PL: My favorite word now is quantum. Everything’s a “quantum leap” – but quantum means something really small.

BD: Exactly.

PL: So, I see all these press releases, “This is a “quantum leap” and I’m going, “But that…quantum means small.”

BD: It’s about that whole premise of going to market and saying something like that, right? The relatively naïve assumption that the receiving end, the audience that you’re talking to, is going to say, “wow, really that this must be incredible”. Whereas the reality is, if you say that to most people, you’re creating friction. It’s analogous to going on a dating app and saying, “I’m the best-looking person out there.”

PL: You need other people to say you’re the best-looking, like Ex-Wives and girlfriends, right?

BD: Exactly. So, I think that actually creates friction, because you’re forcing the audience then to consider something that they’re going to be naturally skeptical about. And that’s not the way to start out a relationship. So, it may sound good to you, it may sound appealing, but get the facts out there. Help people understand why this is going to aid their business in a unique and proprietary way and they’ll come to that conclusion on their own. Marketing is about engineering perceptions. You can’t put a conclusion out there because human beings are skeptical, they’re going to push back on it. What you want to do is put out the evidence that leads to an inevitable conclusion. Ultimately that is much more effective. If you feel that you’ve come to a judgment on a data provider, on a platform on your own, it’s going to be much deeper, have greater significance in meaning to you than if someone tried to feed that to you as a conclusion, as a point of engagement. It’s like anything, it’s like meeting people on the street. I mean, if you meet someone and you walk up to them and say, “Hey, I’m the greatest person ever invented,” I mean, they’re going to be skeptical. It’s not way to start a relationship. But if you meet someone, you start asking them about themselves, you try to learn something about them – well, then you’ve got the basis, potentially, for relationship. And that individual will see you as an individual that they want to spend time with because you’re interesting. I think the principle holds here for marketing in adtech and martech as well. I think we just tend to lose sight that these are human beings, and they have anxieties, they have concerns, and they react in emotional ways. And I think that’s often discounted in this push towards “quantum leap”, towards “we’re the best”, “we’re groundbreaking”, right?  


PL: Well, I think people lost that you have to build relationships through storytelling. You can’t just send out these press releases that say, “we’re the best, we created something new”, you need to assume that your current clients and potential clients want to hear your story. Because then they’ll believe that you’ve been around for a while, then they’ll believe that you’re stable, then they’ll believe that you’re maybe, perhaps the best. But if you’re just coming out of nowhere with this press release that says, “we think we’re the best” …

BD: It’s naïve, it’s a naive approach. And as you’ve spoken to some of your guests on prior episodes: look, marketing is about selling, right? This is a sales function, and as any good salesperson knows, you have to make the customer your friend first. You’ve got to build a relationship; you can’t come out of the blue and start asking for a sale. You’ve got to make some investment in it. And these press release that don’t make any connection to end user needs, don’t make any identification in terms of challenges or concerns, don’t make any effort to really explain how this is going to help advance your business – they’re just meaningless. And what happens, too, is that because there is such little differentiation in the marketplace in terms of how people are promoting themselves, it ends up commoditizing certain segments, certainly, when it comes to data. There’s always an issue out there in the marketplace in terms of data quality. And when it comes down to it, and we hear this over and over again, “Yeah, the data I use could be a better quality, but it’s so much more expensive – is it really worth it? What I’ve got is good enough.”


PL: Why do you think that the line between marcom and marketing has changed so much?

BD: Well, I think because it’s not valued sufficiently. And I think there’s not only a disconnect between marcom and marketing, but I think even more significantly between marketing and sales. We hear over and over again from companies [that] the folks in marketing don’t have much connection and communication with the people in business development, which astounding. And consequently, what we oftentimes find out is that marketing has invested time in a platform and messaging framework and positioning, and it goes out the door, when [it] hits sales. Because in a business development environment most sales people will say what they feel is necessary to advance a particular opportunity. And it causes cognitive dissonance. Marcom and marketing need first and foremost to be more closely aligned. It’s so hard to establish a brand position, messaging and equity in the marketplace, you have so few opportunities to really get that done. For players that are out here and the distractions that exist, if you’re not operating from a position of consistency and uniformity and message delivery, from marketing to marcom and then through to sales and business development, you really stand no chance. And gaining, I think gaining that alignment internally; support, alignment, against uniform messaging and then consistent application of that with frequency, with variety, is the only way to move forward. And I think it’s one of the critical issues. And we see companies all the time speaking about themselves very differently based upon the environment, based upon who they’re speaking to.


PL: There’s been a lot of talk about using employees as ambassadors – how do you keep them in check? Because I’ve noticed a lot, especially lately – you see the people have been in the industry for 20 years talking about the product completely different than their brand communications team or their marketing team. How do you reign those people in?

BD: Well, I don’t think it’s a question of reigning people in. I think it’s more so a question of gaining or helping to build emotional investment. One of the critical things when we do brand platform work is to get a baseline understanding of how people internally are viewing the brand or the company. And inevitably, it’s very different.

PL: I could just tell you from talking to the VP of sales versus the marketing team, I often get completely different messages about not just about what their product is, but what’s important with their product. And so, I will go back to the marketing team, I’ll [say], “I just spoke to your president of sales and they just told me everything you’re saying makes no sense to them.” And they’ll go back and they’ll say the same thing. And they just don’t seem to be talking to each other.

BD: We try to start from a position of, “what business are you really in?” Not, “what do you sell, what do you offer, what is the technology do?” When you macro it up, “what business are you really in?” to try to find…

PL: Do all employees have to be involved, though?

BD: Yes.

PL: Beyond the marketing team, especially now in the age of social media?

BD: Well, what you tend to lose sight of – not you, what the industry tends to lose sight of – is that there’s touch points with the brand and the company that sometimes are beyond what you had planned for or beyond what you directly control. I mean, as we all know when we interact with various companies – it could be a casual conversation at a conference, it could be their website, it could be their social media – there are so many different touch points, that sometimes you don’t fully take into consideration. And the casual conversations that employees have with the industry are a big part of that because they’re humanized at that point. And by and large, they’re organic conversations. So, if we can find a common point in terms of how all employees, internal stakeholders view what it is that they do and what they’re trying to accomplish, we take into account what their current perspective of that brand’s equity is, and then begin to build from that point. At least everyone feels they have a degree of emotional investment. You can’t come back with a messaging framework or a platform that is so divorced from how people currently see the company; they’ll never accept it, never internalize it, and they’ll revert back to what they believe. So, it’s got to be an organic build in terms of not only what your what your equity is in the marketplace currently but what internal stakeholders believe that equity to be. Because it’s as you’re alluding to, it’s absolutely critical that you get employees speaking about the company and the business in a similar uniform and consistent way. And it’s a challenge; it needs to be reinforced, you need to get the feedback from those folks and you got make sure that it’s internalized and believed. Not because it’s been dictated, but they believe they have an emotional investment in that position.


PL: Can you recount a time when DBC storytelling prowess turned a potential flop into a standing ovation? Without calling out a client, of course.

BD: I have to go back, Pesach, and think. I mean, it’s, as you know it’s coming up on 20 years. I would have to give that some specific thought. But it’s always an ongoing…

PL: Has there ever been a client that you just turned down and you were just like, “There’s no way I can market this product”?

BD: Not that we didn’t market. There have been clients that just would not take counsel The direction we’re heading in, we we’re not going to be fruitful. And it just becomes difficult to assist people. I think within this space you face the challenge often of a lot of these companies are entrepreneurial driven. Entrepreneurs sometimes have that challenge of having been so in control of every aspect of their company they think it extends to other disciplines where they may not have as much experience. And sometimes it’s difficult for entrepreneurs to take counsel and absorb it, especially in areas that they may not have expertise in. We’ve got incredibly smart people within this industry who’ve just done mind-blowing work in terms of what they’ve been able to develop…but doesn’t mean that they’re good marketers, may not be their skill set. So, sometimes it’s a bit of a challenge getting entrepreneurs to understand that.


PL: What has been a “aha” moment, that instant when everything clicked? And was it really more profound than when you learned you were mispronouncing GIF?

BD: Well, what has been an “aha” moment? I think it’s going to be more evolutionary and it’s been really just over the course of time, spending countless hours analyzing messages that people are putting forth and just coming to realize the disconnect. My background comes out of B2B I mean B2C, so I did a lot of consumer work. I’ve worked in every category from financial services to pharma to health and beauty aids. And health and beauty aids is such an interesting parallel to this industry, in a sense, because when it comes down to moisturizers color, cosmetics – there’s not a lot of great differentiation between these products. But what they excel at is understanding “what are the emotional motivations of the end user?” and how to connect more effectively to those. And I think for me the “aha” moment in conducting this was coming to realize that there’s not a great difference between what we’re doing in adtech and what we’re doing in HBA [health and beauty aids] because it is so critical that you really understand the targets motivations and find creative ways to connect to them. And I think that’s happened over the course of time. And just looking at how marketing is conducted and taking a look at endless positions that people utilize and messaging frameworks and understanding that there was significant disconnect happening there.


PL: In a battle of wits with adtech’s biggest challenges, what’s your secret weapon? I’m guessing it’s probably not a lightsaber but you can surprise me.

BD: I would say the secret weapon for us is getting a more macro view and understanding of where the marketplace is and where it may be heading. I think in the day-to-day, and this is true of every industry, people tend to get a little myopic because they’re dealing with the challenge of the week, with the challenge of the month, and not taking time to step back and macro up and understand really what the implications of their product are, or…


PL: …or how are we chasing trends too much?

BD: Yes, and I think there’s is always a tendency to do that while it’s new and…

PL: …the next metaverse AI-slash-whatever?

BD: I think it takes people off focus and off strategy.

PL: Because everyone I’ve noticed like all these companies that were weeks before not AI companies now have a .AI ending and they’re suddenly AI.

BD: It’s a desire to [not] be left out and I think a lot of it just comes down to the fact that a lot just don’t have a strategy. They’re not even sure what a strategy is. And the desire just to be visible and to be relevant through association which might be topical at the moment, which there’s nothing inherently wrong with doing that, but it has to fit within an overall strategy that you’re applying over the long term and that you’re being consistent within. If you begin to chase things as they emerge – go back, NFTs; now, AI. What happens is you don’t have any baseline to be able to assess, “Is what I’m doing working? And if not, why?” Because you’re constantly redirecting your focus and attention and resources in getting out messages into the marketplace that may not necessarily be connected. So, you have no ability then at that point to go back and assess really “what is working for me and what is not?” But I think we’ll always see folks wanting to chase the bright shiny thing, just because it receives so much attention in the short term.


PL: What’s your go-to beverage? Does it reflect your marketing strategy?

BD: My go-to beverage depends upon…yeah, it does reflect marketing strategy because it’s highly dependent upon occasion and situation. Certainly, my go-to beverage during the day is going to be water. I want to stay hydrated. My go-to beverage for when I want to do some deep consideration and thinking is going to be a negroni because it’s a little bit more applicable towards contemplation.

PL: So, classic and smooth?

BD: Yes, classic and smooth. It’s the right combination of bitter and sweet, so we all grew up drinking those. So, much like marketing it depends upon the occasion, it depends upon what you’re looking to accomplish and achieve. And it’s situational.


PL: I want to hear the Bill Daddi origin story. Was there a light bulb moment or did you wander into marketing like a lost tourist?

BD: I started as a child, and I have no idea why, fascinated by media, fascinated how by people access information and how they process it, and how it impacts their actions. So, I started from an early age wanting to be a journalist, and I’ve worked with organizations from CNN to MacNeil/Lehrer Report, WPIX television. Worked at trade publication Consumer Electronics Monthly covering the, at the time, very highly profitable world of digital calculators and digital watches industry that was Casio and Texas [Instruments].

PL: [I was] about to say, I grew up on the Casio; that was the coolest watch to have. I got the Casio and I remember I didn’t do any math on it; the buttons are way too small. But I loved it, I was the coolest kid around, at least that week.

BD: And that was the big growth category. And within the span of a year or two as banks started giving away calculators for free, that market just completely evaporated. And it’s a good example of an industry being so myopic in terms of, “how do we increase sales this week”, not seeing really what was coming down the pike, ultimately being able to adjust. So, I worked in journalism before heading into communications…

PL: …you know both sides.

BD: Both sides.

PL: So, you’re used to all the BS pitches?


BD: Yes. But I was always fascinated with how news is identified, how it’s organized, how it’s reported. I find that process to be ultimately fascinating. I’m a big fan of Marshall McLuhan. For a good period of time, I was teaching a course called “Introduction to Media Studies” over at Stern College, part of Yeshiva University

PL: My daughter went there.

BD: …and introducing the girls to Marshall McLuhan and “Understanding Media”, and just trying to help them understand how the way that we access and process information actually has an influence over our cognitive process itself. I find that all fascinating. So, that’s how I got into this. And as I said I’ve worked in a number of different industry verticals. In fact, when we started the agency back in 2005, initially we were a pharma agency. But not too long into it, we had the opportunity to work with TNS Media Intelligence – which was then subsequently acquired by WPP, rolled into Kantar, and today we still represent all US divisions of Kantar. And I just thought that the collection of competitive media intelligence and the application of it for decision-making was just absolutely fascinating. It was such an interesting utilization of data for decision-making purposes. And from that point on, our roster eventually became advertising, adtech, martech and insights. So, I come from it from a perspective of just being fascinated in terms of how information impacts decision-making, how people access it, how it impacts their motivation to actions and just impacts their overall cognitive processes.


PL: Do you have a book that’s been your marketing ‘Bible’, guiding you through the highs and lows? And please don’t say “Green Eggs and Ham”.

BD: No – I guarantee you I will not say “Green Eggs and Ham”. I will say…

PL: It’s about persuasion.

BD: …It’s ultimately about persuasion. And one of probably the best and easiest to understand examples of how to approach it. I still love “Understanding Media” by Marshall McLuhan because and I’ll go back, and it’s very it’s a very challenging text to read, because it’s very academic in nature, it’s very dense. And I don’t agree with everything that McLuhan has said, but I mean, his ability back in the 1960s to step back and really understand exactly how media and information changes things and what media actually is. He always contends that a light bulb is media, is a form of media. But even his perspective, that the Western tradition, which was much more based on written information than oral traditions, led towards individuality and individual initiative because you’re experiencing accessing information in a singular, in a private setting, rather than the oral tradition where you’re listening to other people react as well, too. So, I’ll go back and read “Understanding Media” and portions of it from time to time, because it’s just an excellent reminder as to ultimately, he’s addressing media, but ultimately, what marketing is and what it’s looking to achieve. It’s not dissemination of just information, of product education, it’s about engagement. It’s about trying to establish connections in a meaningful way that delivers some value to the end user and is going to want to motivate them to find out more to engage with you and be predisposed towards you. And I think McLuhan’s approach to having a real macro level understanding of how media impacts culture and society is just a great reminder from time-to-time in terms of how we should go about our business and marketing.


PL: What’s a piece of marketing advice that was so bad it was good or that was so good it was bad? Something like “always be closing”, but for people who hate sleep?

BD: I have to give that some serious consideration…a piece of marketing advice that was so bad that it was good… I wouldn’t say it’s marketing advice that is bad but we have a tendency to maybe over complicate things. When it comes down to it, and I’ll refer to Mr. [Greg] Stuart from MMA who was on your podcast, just getting back down to that marketing is about selling. It’s about selling goods and the fundamentals and his emphasis in terms of how marketers tend to get away from fundamentals. It’s not advice that’s bad nor good, but it sounds so simple on the face of it. But I do think sometimes we tend to over-complicate this process and get away from exactly what it is we’re trying to accomplish. So, not directly answering your question, but I think that’s ultimately the most important here.


PL: If adtech marketing was a sport, what position would DBC be playing? Are you the quarterback, the coach or the cheerleader keeping everyone’s spirits up? Or are you the “streaker” disrupting the game and getting all the attention?

BD: I never want to be the “streaker” disrupting the game. I think it’s a little bit of both, of all of those actually, depending upon the situation. But ultimately, we’d like to see ourselves as the quarterback because we’re helping to make those in-game decisions and executing against it as well too. What we oftentimes see with consulting companies, as you know, as brilliant some of those people are, it’s dropping in advice and then heading for the hills and leaving others to implement that advice. And I think that’s a real danger because you don’t get to see what the real-world implications and impact of the council you’re providing is. So, we’re much more so, I think, in that quarterback situation of helping to bring strategy forward, improve upon it, and then enacting it, implementing it. And based upon what’s happening in real time, to adjust it making sure that we’re staying on course, that we’re staying true to the strategy that was developed.


PL: What’s your take on the future of adtech? Are we heading towards utopia or dystopia?

BD: Oh, I think we’re heading towards a little bit of a reckoning. And I think…

PL: When do we get jetpacks?

BD: They’re coming around the corner. There’s a great band in Scotland called We Were Promised Jetpacks.

PL: Yes, I’ve heard them too.

BD: Yes, and they’re great live, too.

PL: I think there’s only been like two bands from Scotland – U2 and them.

BD: Oh, there’s a couple of good ones, but…

PL: No U2 is from Ireland. I’m sorry. What was it…

BD: Big Country came out of Scotland

PL: What was that, there were like twins that came out of Scotland…10,000…I forgot what it was called. [Note: PL was likely referring to The Proclaimers]

BD: In my prior life I was a musician, I can talk about that.

PL: What did you play?

BD: Primarily guitar. I started out playing a four-string ukulele when I was a kid because I couldn’t get my hand around a standard neck. But then I was taught as a jazz guitarist. But then when I was playing, and had great opportunities to play CDs a number of times, it was more post-punk alternative.


PL: What does the day in the life of a media mogul like yourself look like?

BD: It’s a lot of taking a look at what’s happening within the news cycle, what’s happening within the industry. Beginning to adjust and provide counsel out to clients. A lot of these days, Zoom calls or other video meetings just to get updates from clients, provide them with counsel as to what they may want to be doing, giving them all perspective as to what we see emerging within the news cycle or issues of importance. So, it’s a pretty packed day. So, the work day is primarily filled with conversations. And try to find that time between 6 and 8 to do some substantive thinking and development of recommendations, council, thought leadership work, and so on.


PL: Is there a marketing trend you’d wish to go away? And don’t say QR codes unless you really, really mean it.

BD: I don’t think there’s any marketing…and QR codes have I think an interesting role to play and I’ll come back to that…I don’t think it’s a marketing trend that I’d like to see go away, I’d like to see marketing improve. I think I’d like to see people take it more seriously. I think ultimately, people are not taking marketing seriously enough. They don’t realize to the extent of which their brand equity, how it impacts their business and how it’s changing, with or without their participation organically every day. And to place more attention, focus on gaining control of that. I think QR codes have opened up an interesting door because when we talked about adtech or advertising coming to a reckoning, it’s fascinating that in an industry that is predicated on innovation and evolution, when it comes down to it, advertising is really the same type of concept that it has been since Bulova ran their ad how many years ago, that was on the World Series for the first televised commercial. It’s still predicated on disrupting viewer experience for delivery of information, whether they want it or not. And I think the reckoning that’s coming, and I think data and technology is enabling this, is re-conceptualization of what advertising is or could be. How do we deliver better value to the consumer? Not just through more relevant advertising, but how do we make that experience more valuable, too? And QR codes is interesting in that it provides some degree of engagement or investment with the viewer with creative. Provides potentially some type of value. I know shoppable advertising is certainly an important trend it will be interesting to see how that emerges, if it’s properly utilized. And how that might lead to just looking at what commercial advertising is in a much different way or even delivery of content in a much different way. So, I think we’re going to come to a point where we really all do need to step back and think about this incredible advertising ecosystem – what it is, what is really the value with the viewer, how do we establish a stronger relationship so it produces better value for them, and ultimately becomes more effective? So, I think that’s coming down the pike. I think some of the pressures that we’re facing, certainly in data collection, data utilization, targeting, is going to force still a lot of reconsideration about how we go about our business. But ultimately, it’s going to be healthy. Because what happens is, if people are not forced to do the hard thinking about “how do we change things”, “how do we do something better”, they don’t. Because you’re just so focused upon maintenance and operation of your business. And sometimes you need things like cookie deprecation to force you to sit back and say, “Okay, how can we do this better? How can we do this differently?” And I think, to an extent, there are good events that are catalysts. I think, of a lot of these marketing trends that emerge and go away also serve that purpose because it forces a degree of reflection.


PL: If you could have any marketing superpower, what would it be? Mind, time travel or something even cooler?

BD: Oh, it would be mind control. So, people are more readily accepting of counsel and advice and understanding when they need to be doing something. Crisis, we do a lot of crisis comms work. Crisis comms is such a good example of that. It’s that when the crisis hits, people either underreact or overreact. Because they haven’t done the hard thinking in advance as to what would constitute a crisis?”, which is ultimately a crisis.

PL: I always think of Steve Wen, how they under reacted, how they did they just assume another “Vegas scandal” and it wasn’t. And every blog, every reporter had been hearing these things for years…

BD: They had to step back and take a look at it from a macro perspective. If I could influence more people to listen to council, to think about things more from a macro level in terms of how this might impact their business. Because that that’d be the superpower that I’d love to have. I mean, it’s not mind reading, because the research that goes into things is so informative, not just because of what people say but how they say it, where they’ve said it, why they’ve said it. So, you’re not going to get that from mind reading. It’s interesting, people sometimes cct without understanding why they’ve taken certain actions that they have. So, I think in certain respects, effective and thorough research is more telling than being able to read someone’s mind. Because sometimes people don’t even know what they themselves are thinking or why they act the way that they do.


PL: I like to ask everyone, “If you could send yourself a time-traveling text that you give your younger self, what would you tell yourself” (besides invest in Google, or maybe just something like buy more comfortable office chairs)?

BD: Yeah, well would have been by real estate, would have been the way to go, especially here in New York. I think this would be true of all folks at a certain age, the message I would have sent myself was “There’s not as much time as you think there is.” You’re not too young to take advantage of things or to pursue things. I was teaching the kids at Stern – they have no fear.

PL: Was that a good experience?

Fantastic. And, we brought a number of the kids in here to serve as interns. But they had no hesitancy in terms of expression of ideas, really interesting innovative ways of looking at things. I mean, they were not constrained by someone having told them, “No you can’t think this way” or “This is not the right way to think”. To act upon that at a younger age and not assume I’ve got time. “Act faster, act younger”, I think, would be the message I would have sent myself.

PL: And that wraps up another episode of the ADOTAT show. Thank you for joining us on this insightful tour of Bill Daddi exploring the intersections of marketing PR and adtech. Until next time stay curious stay bold and no more than you did yesterday.