Consumer behavior is undergoing a rapid change. The person who yesterday “surfed the web” today ﬂits across a panoply of screens, sites, channels, and devices, often simultaneously, or very near so. Logos pervade consumers’ lives, from the programs they watch to the billboards they pass, to the clothing they wear. The average person sees some 3,000 brand impressions every day. The media and information they consume might originate in traditional media, social media, advertising, or — with increasing frequency — a hybrid of all three. Consumers rarely pause to note provenance. Media are a veritable blur. The primary quest is for information, entertainment, or shopping. The goal is simply to ﬁnd the “right” media, be it paid, owned or earned, along this highly dynamic customer journey. Brands are challenged to intercept this elusive customer and cut through the media clutter, regardless of whatever channel or medium consumers are engaged with. Converged media will happen and is happening; if marketers do not take action, the effectiveness of marketing efforts will suffer.
Advertising, or “paid” media has traditionally led marketing initiatives, both online and off, but advertising no longer works as effectively as it did unless bolstered by additional marketing channels. Owned and earned media are vital to campaigns, helping to amplify and spread brand messages across a myriad of complex paths that consumers follow across devices, screens, and media.
Earned and owned media have become so integral to successful marketing initiatives that they are now commingling with paid media to create new media hybrids. Paid + Earned; Earned + Owned; Owned + Paid; and even Paid + Owned + Earned media models are now emerging. Yet while consumers make less distinction between channels, marketers remain specialized in one medium at the expense of the other. Rather than allow campaigns to be driven by the locomotive of paid media, marketers are now required to 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.
Brands that do not integrate and align paid, earned, and owned media now are at a disadvantage. While this conﬂuence began and is taking root in digital channels, it is rapidly moving toward more traditional forms of media and to other screens, beginning with television (a new UK station will only broadcast programming with a high level of social media buzz, and user comments are woven into the programming).
2 Marketers who fail to learn to reconcile paid, owned, and earned media today will be at a distinct disadvantage in the future when, in less than 10 years, most media will encompass elements of paid, earned, and owned. To arrive at this state, brands must change the way their marketing departments are organized, build new models to effectively collaborate with agency and vendor partners, shift budgets, and realign metrics and KPIs to effectively measure and assess both creative and media initiatives.
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