As marketing professionals, it’s important to stay current, so it’s extremely important to follow the evolution of paid, owned, earned and shared media. The boundaries between the original three were rigid. There were no fluid lines; everything had its own little corner in the marketing universe. This was the traditional breakdown:
- Paid – You spent money for a 30-second commercial; you gave someone money for coverage and exposure.
- Earned – Your business did something spectacular or announced a breakthrough; you ‘earned’ this coverage because of your actions.
- Owned – Once the storefront, it’s now your company’s website. This is yours; you can convey whatever message you want.
That was the past, but the present is a different story altogether. Social media came along and did not merely interject itself into the conversation but also changed the definitions of owned, paid, and earned media altogether. The rigid boundaries have become fluid, and the lines are more blurry than ever before. What happens with marketing professionals because of this change? They have to adapt, and they have to evolve. They need to determine how to integrate all three forms of media for maximum effect. That is where we find ourselves today.
A look at then and now
It’s important to realize the differences between traditional and online. Here’s where the shifts have taken place:
- Paid – Traditional ‘paid’ focused on advertising, and it was the majority of the ‘marketing budget.’ Nowadays it is more important than ever to distribute available money. Do you spend it in hosting content on your YouTube page? Pay Per Click advertisements? Journal banners? It’s key to diversify and understand what your audience is looking for and where they are actively searching.
- Owned – You once had only a storefront. People used to advertise on billboards etc. but those mostly fell under paid. Nowadays, your website is a focal part of owned media. Given a choice between the two, most advertisers would prefer to mention a website rather than a physical location. Websites allow you to direct attention and can answer any potential questions that a customer may have. More customers would feel inconvenienced by having to pick up the phone to get their answers, let alone having to go somewhere.
- Earned – You established brand authority and increased visibility through public relations. Word-of-mouth marketing could come from respected magazines, newspapers, etc. Nowadays you earn credibility through backlinks, content marketing, search rankings, and impressive traffic statistics. There were limited options before, but now there are many that marketing professionals can consider.
- Share – Word-of-mouth used to be the way to relay whether a company was good or bad. The fact that we now rely on the ‘word of Web’ through our social circles is both good and bad for companies. Those who treat their customers respectfully receive high praise through the social spheres and may even go viral, whereas companies that don’t show that they care about their customers (a perfect example here) are dealt with rather quickly. Marketing professionals cannot allow themselves to have an ‘off day’ because the negative will stick.
A continuous cycle
Companies have to alter their day-to-day basis because the conversation never stops on Facebook and Twitter. Once a company earns its exposure, it’s unable to rest on its laurels and ride it out. By the time a company comes up with an interesting follow-up, the conversation has already passed it by several times over. Modern Marketing is more about paid and owned media working together in unison. It is no longer an option to consider the divide when laying out your strategy.
We have seen some companies fail to adapt to these new challenges and lose market share because of it. But those marketing professionals that are ready to adapt, that are willing to change, and that are able to take the plunge, are opening themselves up for an exciting new world of marketing possibilities.