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Is the Best Digital Marketing Earned, Owned or Bought?

Marketers, CMO’s and business owners have so many digital marketing options to promote their brand and make ideas spread that it can make their head spin.Is the Best Digital Marketing Earned Owned or Bought

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Do you advertise on Facebook, start a blog, jump onto Twitter, produce a viral video or optimise your website for search engines?

Social media marketing is sometimes seen as free but in essence nothing is for free.

Writing a blog post takes time and participating on Facebook and Twitter diverts resources away from other tasks and this all comes at a cost. Developing a marketing strategy for your business or blog can start to look extremely complex and soon that marketing plan is only half done and still sitting in your to-do list tray.

So how do you obtain perspective and context amongst the digital marketing noise and options?

The “Simple” Digital Marketing Landscape

Sometimes its worth standing back and seeing the digital marketing landscape in its simplicity is the best place to start.

Daniel Goodall from Nokia segmented his marketing options initially into three components.

Owned Bought and Earned Digital Media

Research from Forrester further explains the differences, advantages and challenges of these three which is summarized below.

1. Owned Media

A channel a brand owns. This could be your website, blog, Facebook page or Twitter account

This is where you are building a long term on-line asset and relationship with existing and potential customers that continues to build the more you invest. Investing in this is often overlooked because it doesn’t produce immediate benefits.

The Benefits

  • Control
  • Cost efficiency
  • Longevity
  • Versatility
  • Niche audiences

The Challenges

  • No guarantees
  • Company communication not trusted
  • Takes time to scale

2. Bought Media

This is where you pay to participate. This could be display ads on Facebook or paid search on Google. This media can be treated as a catalyst that feeds owned and creates earned media

The Benefits

  • Immediacy
  • Scale
  • Control

The Challenges

  • Clutter
  • Declining response rates
  • Poor credibility

3. Earned Media

Customers respond to your marketing and become the channel (crowd sourced marketing). This can be word of mouth (WOM), buzz and viral. This is where you listen and respond and stoke the fires. This is often the result of a well executed and well coordinated owned and paid media.

The Benefits

  • Most credible
  • Key role in most sales
  • Transparent and has longevity

The Challenges

  • No control
  • Can be negative
  • It has global scale
  • Harder to measure

They all have their advantages and challenges and which you use will come down to goals and asking some questions.

Which is the Best Marketing Media for Your Brand?

This will come down to your goals. If you have objectives that require immediate results then bought media is your best option. If you have time and you want to build a long term asset that will keep producing sales and enquiries then earned media will be your best option. If you want keep costs down and have time to invest in building your on-line assets then your owned media channels are where you should be investing your time and dollars.

The optimum approach is to combine all three to provide a synergistic approach that is greater than the sum of its parts.


Create a Hub and Spoke Model of Owned Media

The hubs you own such as your blog or website should be where you publish and optimize for sharing. Treat your rented social media channels as extensions of your home base where you can engage  on the social networks where your audience hangs out and distribute your content and ideas. Do not give up or hand over your on-line assets into a Facebook only  approach. Remember you are on Facebook or Twitter under their terms and  conditions and you are only renting the asset and you are there at the Landlord’s mercy and sufferance.

Invest in the Future

Earned media takes time but the benefits over time can be extremely valuable. Engaging with your target market so the crowd leverage’s your brand for you, will create an on-line brand asset that money can’t buy. Videos going viral and Tweets being shared can spread your brand like wildfire and Google backs that up by indexing it on their servers to be found on-line for perpetuity (or as long as the electricity is on!)

Make Paid Media your Catalyst

Paid media’s role is not dead but evolving and should be treated as the catalyst to produce immediate results and gain access to audience at scale. Paid media can create awareness for your owned media that can accelerate your marketing. Paid media can start the fire!

Where are you investing your time, resources and money? Owned, Paid or Earned?

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