The Race To Zero

Some interesting shifts are taking place in the whole paid vs. earned/owned media business that have some big implications for the paid part. You know, advertising. First I got briefed on an important milestone story that I reported on today that VivaKi had locked up a new, powerful platform that will give it the ability to strategically plan earned media with the same scientific rigor as paid media (see related story in today’s RTM Daily). In other words, the VivaKi shops -- and their clients -- now have the ability know reasonably well how much money they don’t have to spend to reach the consumers they want. I’ll come back to that development in a minute, but the other thing prompting this RTBlog post was a dispatch I received from Maarten Albarda on Sunday informing me and some of his other closest friends about a new book he and Joe Jaffe have collaborated on. The book, is called “Z.E.R.O.,” which is, as you may have guessed, represents the notion that the goal of new marketing models is “zero paid media.”
Albarda also mentioned that he and Jaffe were officially launching “Z.E.R.O.” today during The Festival of Media 2013, but offered a sneak preview of it -- as well as a chance to help “partially” self-publish it by funding it through Kickstarter.
It is partial, he indicated, because they also have a bonafide publisher -- Archway/Simon & Schuster -- that is on board with the crowd-funding approach.
Albarda said the book will officially release in September, and presumably it will carry a retail price of something greater than zero.
Anyway, the two developments have gotten me thinking that as the art and science of earned media gets better, there has to be a corresponding effect on paid media. I don’t know if it can actually go to zero, though there have always been good examples of that. Marketing guru Al Ries had plenty of examples of that in his book, “The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR,” which focuses on case studies of brands that never advertised but became huge sensations. All them -- including Google, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme -- either advertise today, or are out of business.
But that book was written pre-social, in PR could rule the roost. If Rise were to write it today, I’m sure it would be entitled, “The Fall of Paid and the Rise of Earned.”
As for zero, honestly, it’s got to make people the the programmatic trading business feel pretty good. Even those involved in hardcore RTB trading. I mean, racing to the bottom has got to be a better business model than racing to nothing.

1 comment about "The Race To Zero".
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  1. Doug Schumacher from Zuum, April 29, 2013 at 7:54 p.m.

    Race to Zero -- nice one, Joe.

    I think you hit it in calling out 'pre-social' as a qualifier to 'zero'.

    Relatedly, I just read and posted this morning on Facebook's rewards for their top campaigns of last year.

    The blurb on the winner (Oreo's Daily Twist) noted how it was launched, and with a pretty big impact out of the blocks, without any initial paid media.

    Considering that per your GOOG and SBUX reference, the idea seems to be more about seeing what sticks and then supporting that with paid, rather than using paid as a way or ramming the door down.

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