As we are a company that works with brands, agencies, and publishers, the Paid, Owned, Earned digital media strategy has been discussed in depth and at length not only in past blogs, but also internally and externally with our customers. However, recent reports and articles have surfaced that have brought this discussion into focus as the lines between the three strategies is becoming increasingly blurred. Forrester defined the terms back in 2009 as owned media being a channel a brand owns such as a website, paid media as the advertising a brand purchases to leverage the channel, and earned media as the word of mouth (WOM) that happens around the brand, turning the customer into the channel.
However, a recent article post by ReelSEO discussing digital video promotion added a third media strategy called Social or Shared media based on a report from Room 214 shown in the chart above. They define social media as promotion that is out of the brands hands. Meaning, it consists of video or campaign shares and comments that may “live” on an owned channel but are not created by the brand. They describe earned media as asking friends, organisations or influencers to promote the video or campaign. In other words PR, which in the traditional sense can be considered earned media. This is where the lines are increasingly becoming blurred and where it could be argued there is no need to add another definition or strategy to the mix. Earned media is essentially the social and PR media strategy combined. It is what is said about the brand that cannot be controlled by the brand. This also includes UGC, as discussed in last week’s post.
An article by Social Media Today based on a report by Altimeter Group, argues paid, owned, and earned media are dead. The argument is that media distinctions based on content origins and channels used is becoming meaningless. “As our own public communications channels have multiplied and diversified in ways unimaginable just ten years ago, so do our forms of content” (Source: Social Media Today). The example given is a piece of content posted on an owned channel, much like this blog post. Let’s say the employees of Preview Networks post the article on their personal Twitter accounts. As a result, the followers of those Twitter accounts who have no affiliation with Preview Networks then start to share the content on multiple platforms. Is that paid, owned, or earned media? The argument is that it is all of the above. While logically it might make sense to have these distinctions in order to explain the media strategy, the fluidity of content and channels is becoming increasingly blurred as the audience who receives the content becomes more engaged with it. The owner of the content no longer becomes as relevant as the quality of the interaction and amount of engagement (Source: Social Media Today). This is something we have also argued in a previous post concerning online content measurement.
According to the Converged Media Imperative report, advertising and media are converging. “Rather than allow campaigns to be driven by paid media, marketers must now develop scale and expertise in owned and earned media to drive effectiveness, cultivate creative ideas, assess customer needs, cultivate influencers, develop reach, achieve authenticity and cut through clutter” (Source: Altimeter Group). Which brings me back to the title of this post. Does it makes sense to add a fourth strategy (Social or Shared) when the lines are already merging and blurring between Owned and Earned media? Perhaps the relevant question to ask is not about media strategy, but of user engagement. It’s not just about the channel, rather how engaged the audience is with the content on the channel. In that case, interactivity and appropriate measurement is absolutely critical.
About Preview Networks
Preview Networks is a content marketing platform for brands and content aggregation and syndication platform for publishers. We provide the tools for brands to centrally distribute and manage marketing and PR content across media destinations, devices, and commerce platforms; allowing media partners to automate content acquisition delivering audience and advertising revenue growth.