Earned media is on the rise as marketers scrutinize the effectiveness of traditional paid media.

Marketing plans have always juggled some form of paid media (buying an ad), owned media (building a web site or store), and earned media (coverage in press or word of mouth). But the lines have blurred between these three forms of media. Some ad agencies have started hiring Earned Media Directors. Some PR agencies have started placing media buys.

The best paid media generates earned media (which is why last year’s Superbowl ads drew so many views even before the actual game). And the most successful earned media often needs paid media as an accelerant. Grant Owens from Razorfish said, “Earned often requires a paid spark. We have empirical evidence that a kick-start from paid media is often the difference between a cultural juggernaut and complete silence.”

I found this media chart useful, showing the integrated commingling of Paid, Owned, and Earned Media.

The net result of this blurring is that we have to earn ALL of our media more. A lackluster paid media placement is a missed opportunity. The impetus is on marketers to create marketing worth sharing, whatever the media. We can’t rely purely on paid media to carry the weight.

I’m giving the keynote at Google’s “Think Branding” conference next week. I’d love to hear any examples you have on “marketing worth sharing” — either great paid media that generated earned media, and great earned media sparked by paid placement.

(Marketoonist Monday: I’m giving away one signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Monday. I’ll pick one comment. Thanks!)

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9 Comments

  1. Timmy says:

    The paid, owned, earned model has provided a useful perspective over the last few years. However, with the rapid convergence of media and ubiquity of commercial dialogue, it may become a dangerous myth. Ironically, the model that was developed to disrupt media silos may soon start supporting them.

  2. Josh h says:

    Tom did you read today’s article on Facebook cracking down on fake likes ?

  3. tomfishburne says:

    Thanks, Josh, very interesting read: http://mashable.com/2012/09/01/facebook-removes-fake-likes/

    I also saw that analysts are dinging Facebook stock partly because of questions about paid versus earned media.

  4. Russ Wilson says:

    An interesting spin on all of this is Paddy Power’s antics e.g. Niklas Bendtner wearing their sponsored boxershorts during Euro 2012 and then PP instantly paying his fine for him. The whole stunt got a huge amount of coverage (earned media) but you could argue that given they paid the 80K fine, it was really bought media, just the channel was a footballer rather than a screen or billboard.

  5. Karl Sakas says:

    Tom, for an example of how paid, owned, and earned fit together, I suggest looking at Grasshopper’s “Entrepreneurs can change the world” campaign: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6MhAwQ64c0

    In my interview with producer Sonja Jacob, she noted, “Most of the videos we all become aware of — the ones we say have ‘gone viral’ — have massive promotional campaigns behind them, propelling them to social media sites and getting them to the front page of video sharing sites, and on Mashable, TechCrunch and so on.” http://karlsakas.com/sonja-jacob-viral-video-interview/#viral

    She shared some specifics of what the company did, including mailing 5,000 chocolate-covered grasshoppers to influencers: http://grasshopper.com/5000/casestudy

  6. Kris H says:

    Great cartoon. Again. First of all I think there’s a fourth that can be added, namely ‘shared media’, the media (in the broadest sense) that partners can offer.

    But then again, my fear with most of these paid, owned, earned, … schemes is that they are just schemes. I saw this post of Jeremiah today (http://www.web-strategist.com/blog/2012/09/03/breakdown-converged-media-workflow-coordinating-paid-owned-earned) and you can only agree that most of it might sound reasonable but nobody seems to have a clue about how to implement. Didn’t Einstein once say “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they’re not”. If I were to be at your presentation, I would love to see actual cases of how you yourself (or a brand) made all these beautiful schemes come to life.

  7. neil says:

    When in the field, Content Marketing Secret Agents can spend weeks or months on a particular project. Move too slowly and mistakes can be made, ruining an entire campaign. Or a premature withdrawal from an operation can compromise the full benefit of the effort. find out…

  8. Brad Farris (@blfarris) says:

    I think Kris is onto something… The thing that paid, owned and earned all have in common is that you, the company, are the source. If we can get users, or customers creating content that can really cut through the morass.

    Even customer created content can get a “boost” if you pay for distribution (sponsored posts, etc.) or links from your owned media (blog, social channels, etc.)

  9. tomfishburne says:

    Hi all,

    Great perspective last week on the paid, owned, earned models, thanks! I’ll let you know how my talk at Google goes.

    This week’s print goes to Karl. I really enjoyed the Grasshopper case study as a blending of earned, owned, and paid and have to remember chocolate-covered grasshoppers as a future tactic :-)

    Really agree with Kris and Brad on the value of the fourth media, where the company isn’t the source.

    Thanks,

    -Tom

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