On January 22nd Alexandra Bruell of AdAge.com declared, “But marketers are also seeing value in earned and owned media—and in some cases, using PR campaigns as a replacement or supplement for traditional advertising.” On the surface this may not seem like a big deal. However, consider that Ad Age built a thriving business around traditional advertising starting in the 1930’s. Traditional advertising budgets still tend to be substantially larger than inbound marketing budgets, but this admission is a sign that attitudes are changing – and rightfully so.

Earned Media is the New AdvertisingWhat is Earned Media?

Earned media is analogous to product placement in a sitcom or television show. Sometimes product placement is purposeful, but other times it’s an accident. Seeing Coke next to a judge on American Idol is purposeful placement and paid for – it’s also very obvious. However, seeing a Tornado foosball table on the set of Friends is not – it feels normal and natural.

Content is the product being pushed by brands online. Some brands create such amazing content that it’s featured, discussed or mentioned (product placement) on other blogs and online media networks – driving website traffic, conversions, Internet chatter and social buzz. It doesn’t feel contrived, paid for or abnormal. It’s true inbound marketing.

Good digital PR professionals amass networks of online media outlets that crave amazing, problem-solving content from industry thought leaders and brands. By tapping into these networks brands can actively (and naturally) get their content featured on some of the most traveled websites in the world. While this is purposeful, it certainly doesn’t appear so to the reader. This is earned media.

800-Plus Reasons

On January 16th Slingshot SEO deployed an earned media campaign with a syndication partner. It immediately had an impact on website traffic, but more importantly, it catapulted January’s lead total 82 percent higher than the previous month. This large growth in leads is reflected below.

The earned media campaign’s impact on web traffic was significant, but the effect was more impactful to the site-wide conversion rate. Prior to the campaign launch the website was experiencing a 3.9 percent conversion rate. Post-launch it grew to 9.4 percent in two weeks and hit its highest one day total at 19.9 percent.

In total, the earned media campaign drove 2,251 unique website visitors and 859 conversions in only the first 14 days of deployment. That’s over 800 reasons why earned media is the new advertising. It’s also very likely to continue to drive incremental traffic and leads for years to come.

One More Reason

Earned media and digital PR empowers brands to market like a magnet by attracting people who have problems they can solve. It provides relevance and context to interested content consumers and eliminates the inherent inefficiencies of outbound marketing. This stands in stark contrast to marketing with a sledgehammer – traditional advertising. It’s for this reason that earned media is the future of successful advertising.

For help improving your owned media and content marketing download this Guide to Enterprise Blog Post Optimization.

Image Credit: adambowie