Build Your Content Strategy by Integrating Paid, Owned and Earned Media

Before getting into the specifics of a converged media content strategy, it’s important to first get a better understanding of the meaning of paid, earned and owned media. If you’ve been privy to the…

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Build Your Content Strategy by Integrating Paid, Owned and Earned Media

Before getting into the specifics of a converged media content strategy, it’s important to first get a better understanding of the meaning of paid, earned and owned media. If you’ve been privy to the digital world you may have heard these buzzwords passed around, but what is the difference between them and what does it mean for your digital strategy?

Know the difference

Paid media

is often considered to be “traditional advertising” and includes banner ads, paid search marketing, sponsorship and content syndication. Paid media initiatives usually target prospects in an effort to create brand awareness or new customer acquisition. The great thing about paid media is that it scales really fast. If you have a message that you want to be seen by the mass market, paid media is the right channel to do that. While it can certainly be expensive, you have complete control over the creative, content and marketing spend.

The disadvantages with using paid media alone are that consumers often ignore pure “brand messages” since they are already inundated daily with advertising messages and not just from your competitors either. Every other large brand with a marketing message and a significant budget is fighting for their attention.

Owned media

is any web property that you can control and is unique to your brand. One of the most common examples is a website, although blog sites and social media channels are other examples of owned media properties too. Channels like social media and blogs are extensions of your website, and all three are extensions of your brand as a whole. The more owned media you have, the more chances you have to extend your brand presence in the digital sphere.

Many believe that owned media is free, specifically managing social media accounts. While there is a sliver of truth to that, the time and labor investment are not free… it takes a lot of time to create content, build a thriving community and value to the customer conversation. You also have to consider working with customer support teams, building escalation models, and preparing for crisis communications as well. This takes a lot of time planning and collaborating with other team members and time is money.

Earned media

can be explained as the vehicle that helps people get to the destination (owned media sites). What good is a website or social media site if no one is seeing or interacting with it? That’s where earned media comes in. Earned media is essentially the online word of mouth, usually seen in the form of ‘viral’ tendencies, mentions, shares, reposts, reviews, recommendations, or content picked up by third-party sites.

One of the most effective driving forces of earned media is usually a combined result of strong organic rankings on the Search Engines, and content distributed by the brand. First page rankings and good content are typically the biggest drivers. Rankings on the first page of the search engines place your owned media sites and content links in a position to receive higher engagement and shares, which is why a good SEO strategy is crucial.

When it comes to brand content, interesting, informative content can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it be a blog, infographic, video, press release, webinar or e-book, the bottom line is that the content has to be worthwhile in order to receive the valuable earned media; which is why a great content strategy is also important.

paid owned earned media

Think of earned, owned and paid media like a tripod. Each element is an important part of the whole and all contribute to a complete digital marketing strategy. Ultimately these types of media work best together but making the hard choices of what to include and what not to include is crucial – especially when budgets are tight. But if you simply start by categorizing your media and identifying the right roles based on your objectives, then you’re on the right path.

How to Integrate the Channels

While each of these channels will play a critical role in your content strategy, the real power is when you can integrate two or more of the channels into one campaign or initiative. This is referred to as converged media. The same thinking has led to the recent surge in “native advertising”. Sites such as Buzzfeed, Crave and Forbes are capitalizing on the opportunity to mobilize their lean but hungry editorial teams to create paid content for brands that live alongside the site’s original content.

Examples: Content Coverage

This is perhaps the most powerful of the content promotion channels. Earning attention for a brand’s content can drive brand awareness, traffic, and conversions. Here are a few ways you can get more content coverage.

a) Media Relations

This is a tried-and-true stalwart of public relations (PR), but it doesn’t have to be all about pitching the brand, product, and service stories to journalists and editors. Marketers and PR professionals alike can pitch a brand’s e-book, guide, study, etc. if it’s prudent to the audience of the publication.

b) Influencer Outreach

Also known as influencer marketing or influencer advocacy, influencer outreach is quite similar to media relations though typically, the people targeted are influential in their industry and aren’t necessarily journalists or editors. Influencers can be bloggers or people that amass large social followings around their industry expertise. The result of outreach can lead to something as simple as a social share, a direct or indirect endorsement on a blog, or full-on collaboration with a project or campaign.

c) Bylined Articles

These result when media outlets invite company executives with a very specific expertise to write for them. Some are one-and-done, and others are a series of articles or even a weekly column. Bylines cost nothing, but it takes time to research the media and pitch why a brand’s executive should write for them. Once a byline is earned, citing e-books, guides, studies, and blog posts can drive large amounts of traffic and conversions.

d) Advertorials (Sponsored Content)

This is another way for brands to tap into another website’s audience. Brands using this tactic pay to publish articles on other websites or media outlets. The pieces usually look and feel much like the unsponsored content on the media site, but is denoted with a “sponsored” tag or sticker. Popularized by Forbes, online advertorials are beginning to crop up all over the Internet. However, media buying for sponsored content is still in its infancy. Pricing varies widely across the media — from a couple hundred dollars to six figures.

Brand new topic for you next week. See you then!

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