Forrester Research recently wrote about the terms “owned, earned and paid (or bought) media.” These buzzwords have become very popular in the interactive marketing space today. In fact, taken together they can be applied as a simple way for interactive marketers to categorize and ultimately prioritize all of the media options they have today.
Yet as popular as these themes have become, they’re often loosely applied across the industry and essentially no one speaks the same language. Here is a summary of how each type of online media and their roles can be defined:
Start by creating an ecosystem of your owned media — all of the channels you create and control. There are fully-owned media (like your Website) and there are partially-owned media (like your YouTube channel, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter accounts). Owned media should create a broad brand footprint. Once your core communications are in place, marketers can extend your brand’s presence beyond your Website so that that same messaging exists in many places across the web — specifically through social media sites and niche communities.
Earned media is a result of brand behavior. Earned media is an old marketing term that essentially meant getting your brand into free media rather than having to pay for it through advertising. However the term has evolved into the transparent and viral word-of-mouth created through social media interactions. Brands need to learn how to listen and respond to both the good (positive, organic) and bad (spurned), as well as consider when to try and stimulate this type of media through word-of-mouth marketing, seeding and outreach.
The good news is that paid media is not dead, but has evolved into a catalyst for campaigns to have longer lives. Advertisers are forever predicting the end of paid media. However, that prediction is always premature, as no other type of media can guarantee the immediacy and scale that paid media can. Superbowl spots will receive record-breaking prices for 30-second slots this year again, guaranteed. However, paid media is shifting away from the foundation of brand marketing strategies, and is evolving into an accelerant needed at key periods in a campaign to drive engagement and to support owned and earned ecosystems.
Ultimately these types of media work best in concert, but making the hard choices of what to devote resources to and what not to is crucial, especially when budgets are tight. However, if you simply start by categorizing your media and identifying the right roles based on your objectives, then you’re halfway there.