The term “earned media” once referred only to the press mentions resulting from PR campaigns, but it’s come a long way as of late. The recent popularization of content marketing and social sharing have made earned media the “cool kid,” if not the “new kid” on the block.
Recently at BrightEdge Share13 in San Francisco, more than 600 senior marketers joined 42 speakers from the likes of Google, Bing, Microsoft, Facebook, Salesforce and the Gap to discuss this very subject. The key takeaway – Earned Media is rising, and the relationship between social and search has changed.
A Little Background
For those not familiar with the concept, earned media is created (“earned”) when quality content “earns” a brand recognition and garners a following, as opposed to an ad, which gets in front of people by virtue of payment, rather than via the interest and goodwill it generates in social media.
Online marketers today have many types of media at their disposal, and they broadly fit into the following categories: Owned, Paid and Earned Media. Owned media refers to channels that are within our control as an organization, such as the website, blog or email. Paid media refers primarily to advertising, whether it’s a banner ad, a paid search ad or a purchased link from another site.
The rise of earned media and the changing intersections of search, social and content marketing provide marketers with new, resourceful, sustainable and measurable ways to interact and engage with consumers. Traditional digital marketing methods such as email and banner ads are being replaced by new and innovative ways to find, optimize and measure return based on earned media investments and organic search.
Earned Media Rising
If you search the Web you will find multiple visuals, Venn diagrams, and explanations with regard to the convergence of multiple forms of media – symptoms of rapid transformation and digital disruption.
What many visuals do not show is how earned media can be viewed as the driving force that helps fuel this convergence of media. You earn by strategically using what you own – i.e., creating great content and sharing it with your followers on social media. Paid can then be used to supplement those efforts and close any gaps in your overall online and offline marketing plans.
A Crowded Field Makes Quality Essential
Several forces, such as the importance of content and growth of mobile, are behind this transformation of the digital marketing landscape.
Content is now consumed and distributed locally and globally, across multiple devices (PC, mobile, tablet) and in multiple formats (text, video, images, etc.). It has become easier than ever for nearly anyone to create, share and consume content. There’s a lot out there to sift through.
As a result, social engagement is becoming increasingly dependent on high quality content, and search engines have begun to take social signals into account as a quality indicator, simply as a means of wading through the massive amounts of content out there. It is essential that marketers dig deeper into search, social, local and mobile data to understand how they all work in tandem to impact rankings.
In summary, this fusion of content-centric search and social helps define and provide the backbone of earned media growth.
The Earned Media Ripple Effect
When Gartner predicts that by 2017, the CMO’s technology budget will exceed that of the CIO, and that 25 percent of enterprises will have hired a “Digital CMO,” a Chief Digital Officer, Gartner is, in fact, extolling the virtues of earned media.
Search, Social and Content Marketing laid the foundation for the growth and rise of earned media. SEO and earned media are intrinsically linked. Together, these two channels have become the most efficient, measurable and profitable channels for reaching new and existing customers.
Once you understand the synergies between the two, it is easy to see that earned media actually starts a “ripple effect” that fuels owned and paid media convergence and helps connect consumers and brands across multiple media channels.
Earned media is the most cost-effective method of marketing. That’s why investment in earned media is soaring, helping fuel owned and paid media convergence – it is the chief enabler that drives converged media strategies. It is not just one part of a three-pronged approach to converged media. Earned media provides a central and efficient starting point for holistic media planning projects.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land.