Marketing is a dating game. How brands use paid, owned and earned media determines whether it's a good or bad date. Yahoo and BBDO took the stage at Advertising Week Monday to lay out the secrets of picking up people, from opening lines to "brand storytelling."
Based on a survey of 1,000 consumers and marketers, the study showed that just about all consumers, rather than being likely to turn a cold shoulder, actually want to engage with brands.
"Yahoo and BBDO aimed to understand the unique and complementary roles paid, owned and earned media play for marketers," said Lauren Weinberg, VP, B2B Research & Insights. "In doing so, we revealed the importance of sustaining engagement with consumers rather than just pushing them through the purchase."
Keeping with the dating metaphor, the authors call paid media a "first date," driven as it is by initial impression and connection. Thus, paid media should spark consumers' interest and create a seed of emotional bonds toward a brand.
The study said paid media is the primary source for brand information and creating awareness, with 73% of consumers reporting having seen, heard or read information about brands via paid media and almost half (46%) saying "a great brand is like an interesting person at a party."
But just like the boorish cad at a bar who keeps using the same pickup line, brands that don't vary the message turn people off. Half of consumers in the study said if they see or hear the same ad over and over again, it makes them shut out the brand. Forty-seven percent said if they feel that brands are shouting their message too loud and frequently, they will view that as "aggressive" advertising. Forty-six percent said it makes a brand less attractive. And 82% of consumers said they would ignore a brand if it is viewed as being intrusive.
The study moves on to owned media, which it says is like getting closer to someone you're dating. Owned media done correctly will draw consumers in to engage with such assets as a Web site. "In this phase, the consumer is beginning to become emotionally invested and form a deeper connection. They are deciding if they want to associate with the brand, spend more time with it and get to know it better. In short, they need to find a reason to stay," says the study.
Specifically, 97% of consumer respondents said they want to know the price, product attributes and proof points. Over half said they want to know about the history "and quirky details of a brand." About 45% want to hear interesting stories about the brand, and just slightly fewer said it was important that brands talk about why consumers should care about them.
Finally, earned media is the relationship stage, where brands can build passion and trust through positive consumer reviews or news articles. Reciprocity, advocacy and transparency are key, with about 80% of respondents saying brands should be more genuine, and an equal number believing brands and people should be "down-to-earth and self-aware." Seventy-seven percent said they want brands to be responsive and engaging and 59% say brands should be "more empathetic."
The study suggests that with paid media brands can inform, surprise and delight. Owned Media is where consumers can be encouraged to act and develop loyalty. "Here is where storytelling should be at its best," says the study. "The use of arcs to draw out a story and build sustained interest is one example. It's also where marketers should rely more heavily on digital media to help build these sustained connections."
Finally, earned media is where brands can generate a halo of consumer passion. "This is where consumers should play a role, where brands need to be responsive to what is happening. It's also where consumers can exert their greatest control," say the authors.