The Three Best Friends That Any Company Can Have

This week in digital marketing we are going to be focusing on the three different types of media sources used in marketing; owned, earned, and paid. Owned media is a combination of the various channels a brand is in control of such as their website, social media accounts and blogs. Owned media is a crucial tool when a brand is attempting to build a long lasting relationship with a potential customer. Earned media is when customers of a specific brand become an advocate for the brand. This can occur in a variety of different ways, such as a word of mouth or sharing a specific advertisement with their friends and family through their personal social media accounts. Last but not least, we have paid media. A company’s paid media sources are all the different channels that they pay for in hopes to leverage their brand recognition. A few examples of paid media are display ads, commercials, and sponsorships. If this dynamic trifecta can be executed properly; earned, owned, and paid media can quickly become “The three best friends that any company can have.”

Although finding a good balance between the three different media types may sound like an simple task, marketers are quickly finding out that dealing with a group of three “best friends” isn’t always as easy as it sounds. We have all seen the ‘three best friends’ story line play out a number of different times in our lives, some people may have personal experiences to draw from and others may just be relating back to a storyline they have seen play out in a movie or read about in a book. Because this is a concept we are all so familiar with, we know that these particular situations can often times lead to 1/3 of the party feeling life the odd man out. Without even meaning to, two of the three can appear to be growing closer and that may result in accidentally leaving the third man out on his own.

The first time I was introduced to this tragic scenario, I was only three years old. Toy Story had just premiered in the theaters, and it followed the adventures of several toys who come to life when their owner Andy is not around. In the beginning of the film we are introduced to one of the main characters named Woody, who has become the ‘leader’ of his fellow toys because he is  Andy’s personal favorite. Then we are introduced to a new character, Buzz Lightyear, Buzz was Andy’s space ranger toy that quickly became everyone’s new favorite toy.

Quickly after Buzz’s arrival, Woody became exceptionally jealous of all the attention he was receiving from Andy and the other toys. Woody was no longer the center off attention, instead he was put on the back burner while Buzz was becoming Andy’s new favorite toy. This is no different than what is happening currently in the world of digital marketing.

Andy: Andy represents the marketers, and the world of marketing as a whole.

Woody: Woody represents the more traditional forms of paid media. The favorite choice that has been around for a long time.

Buzz Lightyear: Buzz represents the new shift in focus on earned and owned media. 

Similar to the way Andy stopped focusing primarily on Woody after Buzz’s arrival, today’s marketers have recently started focusing too much on their owned and earned media channels, and neglecting the importance of paid media. Just as Buzz became the new and exciting toy, content marketing was a new and exciting way for companies to reach out to millions of potential customers in ways that paid media never allowed.

Because of the growth and expansion of the internet, new doors are being opened everyday for consumers to become fully educated about a product or company before they make their purchasing decisions. Due to these changes, marketers have started to move away from the more traditional forms of marketing (paid media) and shifted all their focus on new and improved ways to attract the growing digital community. This is where content marketing (Buzz Lightyear) comes into play. Companies are becoming increasingly more focused on creating content that is entertaining and informative, rather than creating interruptive means of promotion. Although the concepts of owned and earned media are newer to the world of marketing, and they have been proven to be successful, that doesn’t mean brands should forget about the importances of paid media.

Although companies can no longer depend only on the attention gained from their paid media channels, that doesn’t mean that it’s not as important as it used to be. It just means that as the world of marketing continues to grow and transform, paid media needs to continue to grow and transform at the same rate. The Flite Blog recently published an article about the concept of converged media, “describes the integration of content and brand message across the three channels marketing has involvement in: owned media (corporate), earned media (typically social), and paid media (advertising).” This idea of converged media marketing can ensure that all forms of media are consistent with one another. Paid media channels such as television ads and billboard ads can be used to familiarize consumers with your brand. Once consumers are familiar with your brand, then you can use your owned media channels such as social media and brand website to inform the potential costumers and share quality content with them. After you have produced quality content through both your paid and owned media channels, then people can begin to share your brand through word of mouth or social media, which becomes your earned media.

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The Happy Ending:

In conclusion, although things in the marketing world are continuing to change and evolve, that doesn’t mean that there isn’t enough room for all three media channels. The idea of converged marketing may help keep paid media channels relevant in all future marketing plans. Towards the end of Toy Story, after Andy believes that he has lost Woody and Buzz for good, only then does he begin to realize that he  is not complete without BOTH Woody and Buzz. Marketers are beginning to realize the same thing, they are realizing that their marketing strategies would not be complete unless they have successfully incorporated paid, owned, and earned media working together.

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