Turning paid, earned and owned media upside down

I really liked something Russell said a while back about revisiting old talks, seeing what he got wrong and where he disagrees with himself. There’s something quite lovely in being so dismissive about the need to be right. Picking up on that, I thought it would be fun to go back through the talk I gave at AIM this year and see where you and I disagree with what I had to say. It’ll likely take a few posts to go though it, so let’s get started.

One of the things I noted at AIM 2010 is that it seems a lot of marketers divide their time, focus, and budgets in the following order of importance:

  1. Paid Media – Advertising.
  2. Earned Media – The favorable publicity gained through promotional efforts other than advertising, so says Wikipedia. i.e. PR, etc.
  3. Owned Media – The stuff marketers create that they own, can reuse, etc. I suppose that some so-called “traditional” marketing tactics and such would fall somewhat within this ‘definition’, but I tend to think more of websites, content, etc. as well as, say, iPhone apps and the like.

I’m not certain that a simple 1, 2, 3 ordering in this instance truly reflects the extreme emphasis most marketers have placed, and continue to place, on paid media at the expense of either earned or owned media.

Today, I think a lot of brands have a real opportunity to flip this on its head.

In saying that, I mean:

  • focusing time, attention and budget on creating owned media that’s interesting or useful to your target (preferably both) and doing so in a way that it’s designed to spread via social media. e.g. Producing a video series that is featured on your website, is easily shareable, and hosted on your YouTube channel as well.
  • using the owned media you create to generate earned media (it also helps to think of earned media as more than just traditional media mentions, but that’s not new to most). e.g. Repurposing a blog post into an op-ed piece.
  • and, as a result, reducing your dependency on paid media over time

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that this is in some way a magic bullet cure-all for every brand. Then again, neither is advertising. Technology is changing how we connect to each other. For many, this shift can fuel reduced dependency on paid media and a more efficient, sustainable marketing spend.

What do you think?

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