Commentary

Owned And Earned Media Grows A Pair

Paid, owned and earned media. There’s no shortage of talk about it. And, while there’s plenty of data on the reach and impact of paid media, there’s far less about the effect of earned and owned — particularly its impact on men.

Here are some things to think about.

Earned media may be particularly powerful among men
Men are going to evaluate fewer data points in making a purchase decision; yet, they are just as interested in making a good one.  And, in making these decisions, men are more reliant on facts (or what they perceive as facts) than emotion.  

The findings of a study by Kantar Video and Synaptic Digital seem to marry with this thinking. The study, on the effectiveness and interaction of paid, earned and owned media, indicated that women seem to have the ability — or the inclination — to piece together messages from a variety of media formats to inform their decisions. Conversely, men are most influenced by editorial coverage and were only marginally influenced by other formats.
By itself, earned media lifted men’s brand awareness 32%. This compares to an 18% lift achieved by paid media and a 21% lift from owned.  Interestingly, 32% is also the total awareness increase produced among men by all three working together.  This is markedly different from females, among whom the combining of media types had a cumulative effect.

Now, the study was specific to a single category, so, you can take the findings with as much salt as you like. But, to me, they’re logical, and even if only directionally correct, they indicate earned media should be prioritized when persuading men.

Women can be effective brand advocates
A study by two New York University gentlemen, Sinan Aral and Dylan Walker, indicates the opinions of women are most influential on the opinions of men. Again, this just makes sense to me; I find it hard to argue against women’s persuasive abilities.  
Aral and Walker examined influence by watching how use of an app spread through Facebook users. Among their conclusions, women exert 46% more influence over men than over other women. 

Apply this to your product category. Will men feel a woman’s opinion is of particular value in that space?  I would wager the opinions of women wield tremendous influence on some items purchased by men (engagement rings, for example).  

Even if you think men are the only audience relevant to your brand, think about how you might talk to women — because women reach and persuade men. 

Men are social shoppers - with a different mission
According to a Performics Social Shopping Study, men who use the social web at least occasionally in the purchase decision process actually use it more than their female counterparts.  

The study says men are more likely than women to:  

  • Use shopping sites and compare products there
  • Research and compare products on deal sites 
  • Use social networks to research products 
  • Use their mobile device in-store to compare prices 
  • Visit a company or brand’s social network page as part of shopping

Important is why men are engaging in these behaviors. Women use social media to connect; their seeking of information and advice gets personal quickly, and they are eager to identify with others like themselves. Men are researchers and social climbers; their information gathering is about building perspective and influence.

Some brands, like Coach, get it. Boasting more than 2 million Facebook fans, Coach has placed significant social media focus on men and does a good job giving men what they need to buy the brand. David Duplantis, the brand’s senior vice president of global Web and digital media, acknowledges that men are seeking a different experience and prefer their engagement with Coach to be more focused on increasing their knowledge of the product.

As a marketer, think about the overall digital experience and social shopping tools you offer men. Do they make research and comparison easy? Do they make men feel informed? Are they helping them buy with confidence?

Whether you are managing the media types under one roof or many, if you have perspective to share about how they can be used to persuade men more effectively, I hope you will share.

3 comments about "Owned And Earned Media Grows A Pair ".
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  1. Erik Sass from none, July 26, 2012 at 11:06 a.m.

    This is really interesting. I always thought interaction between the genders must be a key driver of consumption patterns, but it seemed like it didn't receive much attention from researchers, with most of the focus being on simple gender behaviors in isolation (e.g., "women do this, men do that"). I'd love to see more research on the way the genders take each other into account when making purchase decisions.

  2. Steve Smith from Firehouse, July 27, 2012 at 9:26 a.m.

    Erik, I agree, it would be interesting to see more research on how the genders navigate the purchase decision process and take each other into account. In fact, I'd like to see more research on a number of the topics I raised. Each piece of research I cited feels like it begs further inquiry. I would find it very useful to get an expanded view of how men are influenced by paid/owned/earned across more categories. I will certainly be keeping my eyes out and will pass any additional research I find your way. Hope you'll do the same.

  3. Heather MacLean from Salesforce Marketing Cloud, July 27, 2012 at 9:51 a.m.

    Interesting look at things. I know when my husband and I are doing a major purchase, I do all the research, including doing an analysis on a spreadsheet. In the end, he goes with my recommendation. Of course, how could he argue with someone with a spreadsheet, right?

    Like Mr. Sass, I would love to see more gender research on purchase decisions. I wish, we could go back in time and do a then versus now analysis to see how gender behaviours have changed over time.

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