10 Advertising Books Pros Own That Newbies Don’t

By Justin Brooke

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Who can you trust when it comes to ads?

And do you REALLY need to buy a $2,000 course to learn paid traffic?

You're getting hit with advice from every source imaginable. Blogs. Ads. Facebook videos. Tweets. Everyone with an FB ad account seems to be an expert these days, and they all have a system they swear will make you millions.

Some of them may be right.

Most of them are just telling you what you want to hear so they can make millions.

Hi, I’m Justin Brooke, founder of AdSkills.com. I’ve managed over $10 million dollars (profitably) in online ad spend. With all of that ad spend I’ve acquired over 50,000 customers for my clients.

And soon I will be teaching my son the business.

When I do, these are the 10 books I’ll use to give him a solid foundation. These 10 books made me able to create compelling ads, optimize low performing ads into high performers, and create high converting landing pages.

Below are 10 books I consider indispensable for the modern media buyer. 

Yes, even though some are over a decade old, they still dispense timeless knowledge every media buyer who wants to call him or herself a pro - MUST KNOW!

#1 Breakthrough Advertising

breakthrough-advertisingBy Eugene M. Schwartz

This book is widely considered the bible of advertising. Hard to come-by, but this book is worth every penny IF you can get your hands on it. Schwartz was a master at using words to sell — a copywriter who sold billions of dollars worth of product, by some estimates — and this book shows you his formulas, secrets, and workflow.

Available in print only

#2 CA$HVERTISING

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by Drew Eric Whitman

I keep this book on my desk at all times. It’s a desk reference for ad psychology tactics that help you create ads that pull on the heart-strings of your market. Whitman gives you hundreds of consumer psychology techniques that trigger the sales impulse and help close the deal. Use these approaches in your ads and your sales will take off.

Available in print, Kindle, and audiobook

#3 Great Leads

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by Michael Masterson & John Forde

After writing hundreds of sales pages and building a billion dollar publishing company, this book was printed to train Masterson's employees to replicate his success. Half of the typical ad's viewers don't get past the headline. More drop off after the lead in any sales message. This book, co-authored by my own mentor, tells you how to start your pitch in a way that sticks. It's not a paint-by-numbers guide, but it gives you so much more. I still pick it up every single time I write a sales page or webinar. It's that good.

Available in print and Kindle

#4 Twenty Ads That Shook the World

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by James Twitchell

Nothing beats learning from pioneers. The successful ones, that is, not the ones who get eaten by bears or die of dysentery. Twitchell breaks down twenty of the greatest ads of the 20th century to show you exactly why they were so effective. The ads are two decades old, but the lessons are timeless and translate online seamlessly.

Available in print only

#5 Ultimate Guide to Google AdWords

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by Perry Marshall, Mark Rhodes, & Bryan Todd

If you’re looking for a book that teaches you step-by-step and holds your hand from the first dollar spent, this is it.  Marshall is the single most-quoted source on Google AdWords EVER (and Rhodes & Todd have impressive resumes, too), and they tell you pretty much everything you need to know to run a successful AdWords campaign.

Available in print and Kindle

#6 Don't Make Me Think, Revisited

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by Steve Krug

This book is all about creating effective landing pages and websites. Krug's classic gets you back to the basics of online advertising. Rule #1: make it easy. So many media buyers and advertisers get in their own way with clunky, disruptive, and confusing pages. This book steers you away from that and towards a more effective process that works.

Available in print and Kindle

#7 Triggers

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by Joseph Sugarman

Another master (billion dollar) copywriter, Sugarman shows you how to use psychological sales techniques in your ad writing to "trigger" your ads' viewers into taking the actions you want. This is seriously the most effective source I've encountered; it's like having an expert mentor looking over your shoulder and whispering in your ear. It’s almost unfair to consumers that this book exists, because it’s like a programming language for making people buy stuff.

Available in print and Kindle

#8 Obvious Adams

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by Robert Rawls Updegraff

Is it fiction, or is it the secret biography of one of the most successful ad men ever? The author never said for sure one way or the other, but the upshot is the same: tons of practical lessons on how to be a better advertiser and guide a better business. It's a fun and easy read, too, which only makes the lessons that much more powerful. You could read this short book in an hour, two max, and walk away with highly effective ad strategies.

Available in print and Kindle

#9 Ogilvy on Advertising

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by David Ogilvy

Considered by many the "Father of Advertising," there's little that David Ogilvy doesn't know about using media as an effective sales tool. Though he spent most of his career offline, his insights and lessons are revered by online advertisers, too. If this isn't on your bookshelf, the pros would wonder if you are actually taking this seriously.

Available in print and Kindle

#10 Scientific Advertising

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by Claude Hopkins

One of the first tomes on the science of advertising, this nearly century-old book is still going strong. Hopkins uses empirical research to show why some ads work and others don't, and gives you all the clues you need to keep driving clicks and sales. Read this as soon as you can — it will help you get the most out of all the other books on this list.

Available in print, Kindle, and audiobook

And an 11th book that I just couldn’t resist mentioning...

#11 Words that Sell

11-wordsthatsellRichard Bayan

Think of it like a thesaurus for the advertising world. Bayan has collected words with a proven track record of resonating with various audiences, so you can find the perfect phrase to get your visitors turning into customers. Words make the ad, so don't settle for the first thoughts your mind grabs. Grab this book and find the best way to say it! Keep it nearby and use it often.

Available in print and Kindle


Out of 200+ books in my house, these are the 10 that I would recommend every media buyer have in their library. I hope you've found this list valuable.

Want To See All 50 Books That I Consider a "Must Have" For Any Media Buyer's Library?

I like to consider myself a book connoisseur... I believe a good reference library can spark an idea for killer campaigns, so I've personally collected over 200 marketing books.

However, when I thought carefully there were a total of 50 books that would I'd say helped me improve my media buying chops. I made a PDF of every book along with a short description of why I find it valuable. 

If you want me to send you the PDF just click here

Along with the PDF you'll get a digital copy of 50 ads that made millions. With these two pdf's you'll be better equipped than 90% of other marketers. 

Download The PDF
Download The List Of All 50 Books


If you have questions, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook.

Lastly, if you got a lot of value from this post, help me impress my mom and give this post a share on FB or LinkedIn.

✌️😎
Justin Brooke
Founder of AdSkills