The Convergence of Paid, Owned & Earned Media
With the cultural and technological shifts we see in marketing today comes the need to identify, define, and
standardize terms to streamline discussions in our diverse set of ecosystem connections.
The Converged Media Imperative a white paper published by Altimeter Group, did a great job in providing details on how brands must Combine paid, owned & earned Media.
In order to discuss the interplay of paid, earned, and owned media, let’s first define each of these terms as they apply to digital channels:
Paid media are display or broadcast advertising
In digital channels, paid media include banner ads, Pay Per Click (PPC) search ads, advertorials, sponsorships, sponsored links, and pay-per-post blogging. The common factor of all these channels is that they are a form of advertising for which a media buy is necessary.
Example of confluence with other forms of media: an ad on Facebook that consists of content from the advertiser’s newsfeed post.
Owned media are all content assets a brand either owns or wholly controls. Owned media channels include websites, microsites, branded blogs, videos, and the brand’s own(ed) presence on social media and social network channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc. Owned media is largely content marketing, i.e., content a brand owns and/or publishes that involves no media buy.
Example of confluence with other forms of media: A TV spot (paid media) finds perpetual life on an owned channel, e.g., the Old Spice Guy on YouTube.
Earned media is user-generated content created and/or shared by users. (It bears mentioning that some consider shared media to be a separate channel. More on this below in Outlying Channels.) Types of earned media include consumers’ social media posts, tweets, reviews, videos, photos, and open online communities. Another component of earned media is mentions in media or on social channels that are the result of PR or media relations. For brands, earned media is the most elusive and difficult of the three channels; while it can be influenced, it cannot be directly controlled.
Example of confluence with other forms of media: Display units that scrape relevant and targeted user reviews from ecommerce sites and input them directly into the ad creative (Bazaarvoice). Also notable is Sweden’s Twitter account, which is fully under the control of a new Swedish citizen each week.
Outlying channels don’t neatly conform to the categories of paid/owned/earned media. This is to be expected from some forms of digital media. Online contests and sweepstakes, for example, are often hybrids of paid, owned, and earned media. And as mentioned above, shared media (“likes,” “retweets,” “shares,” etc.) are considered by some to be a wholly separate channel from earned media. Moreover, shared media may or may not contain original content (e.g., a comment or other earned media) added by the sharer. Co-created content is another category that could be assigned to earned or to shared media. We acknowledge these arguments, but for the purpose of this report we will consider “shared” media to be part of earned.
Converged Media utilizes two or more channels of paid, earned, and owned media. It is characterized by a consistent storyline, look, and feel. All channels work in concert, enabling brands to reach customers exactly where, how, and when they want, regardless of channel, medium, or device, online or offline. With the customer journey between devices, channels, and media becoming increasingly complex, and new forms of technology only making it more so, this strategy of paid/owned/earned confluence makes marketers impervious to the disruption caused by
Stay tunned for part 2 of this post, where I’ll outline 11 Success Criteria for Converged Media