Before getting into the specifics of a converged media content strategy, it’s important to first get a better understanding of the meaning of paid, earned and owned media. Paid media is often considered to be “traditional advertising” and includes banner ads, paid search marketing, sponsorships and content syndication. Paid media initiatives usually target prospects in an effort to create brand awareness or new customer acquisition.
The great thing about paid media is that scales really fast. If you have a message that you want to be seen by the mass market, paid media is the right channel to do that. While it can certainly be expensive, you have complete control over the creative, content and marketing spend. The disadvantages with using paid media alone are that consumers often ignore pure “brand messages” since they are already inundated daily with advertising messages; and not just from your competitors either. Every other large brand with a marketing message and a significant budget is fighting for their attention.
Difference Between Owned/Earned Media
Owned media is the content that your brand has complete control over such as the corporate website, blogs, communities, email newsletters as well social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. Owned media initiatives typically target to your brand’s existing community and/or current customers.
Many believe that owned media is free, specifically managing social media accounts. And while there is a sliver of truth to that, the time and labor investment is worth noting … it takes a lot of time to create content, build a thriving community and value to the customer conversation. You also have to consider working with customer support teams, building escalation models, and preparing for crisis communications as well. This takes a lot of time planning and collaborating with other team members; and time is money.
Earned media is the natural result of public/media relation’s efforts, ad campaigns, events and the content that you create within your owned media channels. It is not really a revolutionary concept either. For the last several decades, brands have been hiring PR firms to reach out to the media in order to get them to write stories about the brand. Today, that has expanded to influencers who have popular blogs as well. When someone not associated with your brand mentions you on Twitter, Facebook or any other social media channel, it’s earned media. Other types of earned media include consumers’ social media posts, tweets, product reviews, videos, photos, and open dialogue within online communities.
Integration of Channels
While each of these channels will play a critical role in your content strategy, the real power is when you can integrate two or more of the channels into one campaign or initiative. This is referred to as converged media. The same thinking has led to the recent surge in “native advertising.” Sites such as Buzzfeed, Crave and Forbes are capitalizing on the opportunity to mobilize their lean but hungry editorial teams to create paid content for brands that lives alongside the site’s original content.
According to the Altimeter Group, 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 emerging technologies.
The above is Part 1 of an excerpt from Michael’s book, “Your Brand: The Next Media Company,” available for pre-order on Amazon. In part two, we’ll take a closer look at the need for convergence of paid, owned and earned media. You can also join the Facebook Page for the book.