Great marketing in the 21st century is about making the most of all your media options. Companies can no longer rely on just one media type to effectively get their message out to audiences. Instead, a blend of paid, owned and earned media is needed to stand out, gain attention and connect with interested prospects.
The changing media landscape
Whilst paid media (in the form of press and television advertising) dominated from the 1950s until the early 90s, owned media (primarily websites) began to make its mark as the internet burst into life from the mid-90s onward.
But as social media started to creep into the public consciousness just less than a decade ago (and continues to capture our imaginations now at a rate of knots), a combination of owned and earned media is gaining an ever-increasing presence and important role within the digital landscape.
Earned media = inbound marketing
Earned media, in the form of SEO, social media and content, offers businesses both big and small a huge opportunity to build brand awareness, engage audiences and drive sales for a fraction of the cost of paid equivalents. Also known as inbound marketing, earned media tactics can feed off one another in an integrated way to create content that resonates.
The key thing about earned media is exactly that – it’s earned. Instead of interrupting people with messages or promotions, you can earn their attention by providing something relevant, useful, compelling… or a combination of all three!
And with increasingly robust and powerful websites, and social communities, businesses and individuals are combining earned and owned media to create a set of digital assets that are offering consumers the opportunity to interact and engage with brands that was simply unimaginable only ten or fifteen years ago.
Bringing it all together
In another excellent post (and cartoon) from Tom Fishburne, the Marketoonist explains how the lines between paid, owned and earned media are blurring and that we have to earn all of our media more. Throwing money at a channel will only get us so far. We have to create something worth sharing and talking about.
It’s therefore essential that we consider how paid, owned and earned media can work together. For example, a great ad (paid) can generate conversation and word of mouth (earned) whilst many big social media campaigns (earned) often require a paid spark (the British Heart Foundation’s campaign from early this year demonstrates this point perfectly).
As the attention economy continues to get squeezed, it’s important that we find new ways to engage consumers. Complacent advertising, poorly designed websites and lazy social networking just won’t cut it.
We have to earn people’s attention by creating something special. Otherwise it will get lost in all the noise.