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The Power of Earned in an Integrated Campaign

Branding

Establishing a meaningful relationship between brands and consumers sounds easy enough. It’s not. Converting a consumer into a customer is essentially the result of successfully motivating a single action, usually a purchase. Getting that customer to perform continuous interaction with the product or the brand is naturally going to take more thought and effort.

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That’s where the power of an integrated campaign comes in. It takes cohesive strategy across all components of a campaign to engage that consumer beyond a single action. Every aspect, from marketing messaging and all owned content to paid media execution and earned and social programs need to be planned and executed in unison. And while all of the components are critical, earned media stands above the rest when it comes to continuously engaging consumers to broaden and amplify a campaign. Unfortunately, it’s also the one component perceived by most marketers and product stakeholders as traditionally the toughest to measure in terms of results, and ultimately in terms of ROI.

That is changing.

We recently introduced a program at Ayzenberg Group that we believe is the first of its kind, though quite likely the beginning of a trend. We call it the Earned Media Performance Guarantee. In an interview that included your author, we spelled out the mechanics of this new approach to integrated campaigns where we predict and guarantee the ROI for its earned media component. We’re essentially applying what’s become standard for paid campaigns to earned and social, where shortfalls in reach or impressions usually result in some sort of ‘make good’ for clients. In the same vein, we’ve developed a standard for quantifying results for earned programs in a way that’s measurable against paid media, developing a common currency for marketers by which to evaluate integrated campaigns.

What prompted us to offer this?

It’s what I mentioned above about the impact of converged campaigns. At Ayzenberg, we’ve found our most successful campaigns are where we’re able to work hand in hand with clients to take an integrated approach and leverage earned media to create a campaign “lift.” We have another name of this – the earned media multiplier. Behind it are the mechanics of how earned and social, if executed successfully, can engage consumers continuously while other components of the campaign are being rolled out.

Most campaigns experience peaks and valleys in consumer awareness over the course of their lifetime. The peaks are spikes in interest when new content or components roll out. The valleys result when there are lulls in communication. However, continuous activity through earned media channels sustains the lulls and causes a continuous lift in awareness throughout the campaign. We’ve seen consistency in this effect to the point where we can now confidently forecast a baseline lift based on the extent to which earned media programs are integrated into the larger campaign.

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What we guarantee is that percentage of lift, and it is contingent on a number of factors. First and foremost, the brand stakeholder needs to understand how earned media integration within a larger campaign works. It goes well beyond launching a Facebook community and a Twitter feed to coincide with the start of a program.

One of the best recent examples is EA’s Battlefield 3 campaign. EA calculated ROI on its Facebook campaign, which included paid advertising on the platform as well as a comprehensive community building and moderation effort. It found that for every dollar in advertising it spent on Facebook it generated 440 percent return in product sales. The figure is based on internal modeling, where EA attributed 210,000 units sold to its efforts through Facebook.

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As impressive as the results are for EA, the value of their efforts on Facebook for theBattlefield brand go well beyond that single act of purchasing the game. EA’s campaign on Facebook was a sustained effort that involved continuous engagement of their community. The week of launch, Facebook’s “People Talking About This” metric measured more than 800,000 people talking Battlefield, making it the most talked about page.

In its Facebook case study, EA’s Chris Thorne, senior director of consumer marketing, said, “By leveraging the Facebook social graph to make it feel like everyone was ‘talking about’ Battlefield 3 during the campaign, we were able to reach consumers in a highly credible and effective way.”

Thorne continued, “Executing the ‘playbook’ of acquiring a highly targeted and engaged fan base, encouraging fans to engage on Facebook with Battlefield 3 content, and then using sponsored stories to share these ‘engagements’ with their friends, led to a highly efficient and effective marketing campaign.”

That’s the power of an integrated converged approach, as these results were gained by successfully deploying carefully combined paid and earned programs. We now have an effective way to predict and measure these types of campaigns, implementing all techniques in concert and using a single currency to measure success. Our confidence in this approach is based on direct experience and our own evidence of effectiveness, and that confidence enables us to introduce the word ‘guarantee’ into the world of social and earned media in a way that we believe hasn’t been seen before. In the end, it takes marketers one vital step closer to attracting customers who turn into advocates, establishing a meaningful relationship that could involve them with your brand for a long time, maybe a lifetime.

Guaranteed to Earn” is part of a series of articles for [a]list daily highlighting Ayzenberg Group’s Earned Media Performance Guarantee program. For more information, you can reach out to contacts provided at the bottom of this site based on the nature of your inquiry.

By Simon Ward

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