Media paid owned earned

Published on August 26th, 2012 | by Paul Morris

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Paid Owned Earned Media Development

By Paul Morris
Something that the old agency I worked for loved to talk about with clients was ‘Paid Owned Earned’ Media.

This model can at times smack of agency waffle however I actually quite like it; as long as it gets utilised in the right way and is not just there to hang costs from.

Whilst I will be refining and commenting on the model let’s first explain it to the uninitiated.

My favourite old skool definition comes from Sean Corcoran at Forrester who did a good job of defining the 3 media types (a little out of date now but much still holds true):

paid owned and earned explained

My first minor problem with this model though is that there could be justification for another category; ‘Shared’.

Many marketers classify Owned media as those the brand directly controls such as websites, blogs, newsletters and your own social media accounts (Facebook et al). Earned, despite the above table, is sometimes used by companies to mean what the PR department is doing offline (networking, PR syndication, etc) and simple online PR such as online PR wires, blog and company Facebook updates, etc.

If the above definitions are followed the categorisations do not go far enough to develop digital lurve and therefore lead to a lack of positive and proactive outreach and engagement; hence the reasoning for a fourth to remind complacent marketers.

An example of ‘Shared’ is the below Social SEO Radar graph I developed.

radar graph

[Radar Graph Explained -The closer the medium (seo or social media) is to the outer blue line for each initiative (press releases, copy creation, etc) the better. Effective social seo should equal the outer blue line as in combining seo and social media you amplify / halo effect their effectiveness.]

My next comment on the Paid Owned Earned model is that by necessity it is often detailed in the above table format; i.e the elements separated out. What really needs to happen is that they are combined to maximise halo effect and lead to truly integrated Marcoms strategy.

We ‘just’ ultimately need to cut through the clutter of devices and media mediums that span the customer journey and intercept the customer with all the R’s (right time, right place, right message) and then engage them.

So Paid Owned Earned (and possibly) Shared need to work much more holistically together that amplify marketing messages online across the various paths to conversion and then further infiltrate the interplay of online and offline e.g. dual screening. It is going to be a much more complex world, as highlighted in my native advertising article however we have no choice but to integrate departments, work effectively with agencies/ technology providers and align marcoms activities to defined KPI’s if we are to maximise ROI and overcome the competition with our digital activity.

What does this new model look like?   

If the model at the top of the page isn’t right then what is? Well there are several models that have been developed however one of the simplest and closest to my own thoughts (and it’s one of the oldest strangely enough having been developed in April 2010) is from David Armano (below)…

earned owned paid development

…and I also love a more recent infographic from Altimeter on how brands must combine paid, owned and earned:

paid earned owned converged media


About the Author

Global Digital Director. Interests include: my family/ friends, new technology, Martial Arts, cycling, sport in general, God & loving life.



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