Written by Sandra Klopper and Wayne Kotzé-Flemming

The media world has become multilayered, multispectrum and multicomposite. It’s a world filled with ever-changing functions, exploratory expeditions and intensified scope – none of which is unusual.  Each platform utilises distinctive ways to communicate with target audiences, although not all of them are always relevant in achieving the overall objectives.  We don’t need to state that the relationships we have with consumers are multifaceted.

Retrospectively, we are also all aware of the challenges we face to drive a specific targeted campaign that would give us enough voice share in the market.

We hear and see more and more references to the appeal that the media need to amalgamate paid, owned and earned categories.  It seems uncomplicated at first, but to do this effectively we need specialists to integrate their efforts to understand and accomplish a perfect balance between these three categories.  Although each of these platforms has multiple subjects to be discussed, we can attempt to capture a couple of key thoughts about this new media landscape.

How do we leverage between paid, owned and earned media? Before we can do that, we first need to understand what each of the categories are and what it means to leverage them.

1. Paid Media

Paid media are the media that the brand purchases to communicate to the target audience such as TV, online banners, radio and print. “Paid” is in essence for scale, reach and speed. Social networking sites, for instance, cannot do everything and reach everybody – reach, scale and speed come from paid.

2. Owned Media

Owned media are spaces that are owned and controlled by the brand that the target audience chooses to visit. This would include, but not be limited to: the company website, social media platforms, digital applications, sponsorship properties and retail stores. Owned is for content, relationships, listening to your clients, customers or audience and for co-creation with your audience. Open source opportunities are everywhere, so create great content, utility and applications to support your owned online platforms.

3. Earned Media

Earned media are the media that are gained free of charge for the campaign and include public relations, word of mouth, bloggers, key influencers, social endorsements and campaigns spread through social media channels.  With respect to the scale of balance, paid cannot do everything.  Just as we require a public relations strategy to channel a strategy, we require a social conversation (storytelling) strategy and plan, not simply a presence on Facebook.

Leveraging these different media categories occurs when true campaign integration has taken place at the expert level.  Only then does the whole become greater than the sum of all of the marketing parts.

A synergy has been created between all of the touch points.  This synergy gives the campaign traction in the market place and allows it to grow organically over the campaign period.  The result of an intrinsically planned transmedia campaign creates a base of enthusiastic followers and evangelists that the brand can continue to have a conversation with on an ongoing basis.

Multiple discussions have taken place around the measurability of the various mediums and how they stack up against the measurability and engagement possible in an online environment.  We don’t believe that they need to.

If you look at a communication plan holistically, it consists of many touch points. Each of those touch points plays a different role in the overall plan.  Each of those has specific influencing factors which support the overall measurement matrix.

It isn’t possible to have the same level of engagement with a TV campaign as it is with a digital platform, but we don’t need it to.  Google itself reports that online searches are driven by offline media to a large extent.  One of the roles of TV should be to entice the audience to search for the campaign online – where the brand can engage with them in a two-way conversation.

If one understands how each of the available channels can be used best to achieve the overall campaign objective, campaign synergy is possible and becomes an extraordinary dynamic conversation.

Consumers are more open to and aware of different messaging at different times and so the creative of each channel needs to speak to the market in a way that it will be openly received by the audience in that particular environment.

This means that we cannot push a 30-second ad into all media channels and achieve an integrated campaign. The strategy needs to be more robust than that.

We have developed five tips for leveraging this transmedia equation of paid, earned and owned media:

1 Involve the media strategist in the development of the overall campaign strategy and gain a good understanding of what mediums will best communicate the campaign objective to the right audience.

Develop the creative strategy in conjunction with the media strategist to understand the kind of messaging that will succeed.

Identify market trends early and take advantage of the relevant medium before the environment becomes cluttered.

Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.

5 Create a balance between traditional media planning techniques and the potential for talkability.

While data intelligence provides a strong base to leverage from, the key to success is to have a trusted partner relationship with your agency partners.

About the Author Wayne Flemming

As a strategic marketing purist progressive global experience, Wayne believes in simplistic and uncomplicated thinking Described as ‘talented and hard working’, Wayne, with an incredible business understanding is an expert at translating business requirements and integrating brand communication to engage consumers in brand conversations and experiences

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