Commentary

Debunking Earned-Media Myths

You’ve probably heard the term earned media being tossed around a lot these day. It’s all the rage in CMO offices the world over.

For some CMOs, earned media is just another way to extract incremental media efficiencies through exposures above and beyond what it is that they’ve paid for. For others, it is a means to enhanced marketing effectiveness through consumer engagement.

But for a large percentage of CMOs, earned media has remained a mystery or at least something that should not be relied on for predictable outcomes. It’s time to debunk that myth. Earned media is not random. Far from the case, earned media is plannable and predictable.

We’ve seen branded video generate as little as 2% and as high as 2,000% in earned media lift.  Here are a few more myths to debunk.

Myth 1: Only long-form content can generate earned media.

While many examples of long-form content have had success in generating significant earned media, it is not restricted to videos over 45 seconds in length. Even the traditional 30-second television spot can drive earned views. Of the total 198 placements that garnered 26.2 million views for Dodge’s“Ron Burgundy” spot, for example, 169 of these placements were content uploaded or created by viewers.  That is an outstanding 6X lift in earned media.

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Myth 2: Earned media is randomly generated from campaigns featuring things like cute babies, celebrity stunts, and talking animals. 

While those kinds of campaigns can drive earned media, those elements are not a guarantee. The key to driving earned media is hitting those elements in the right doses and using them in the right contexts.

Myth 3: Maybe we will get lucky by throwing money into random outlets like celebrity social accounts, fan bases, etc.

One of the most important things to consider when in the pursuit of earned media is both where and how the creative elements are distributed. The content has to be placed in the correct environments, with the right audiences, at a time consumers are most attentive. The variables that characterize those environments determine the earned media outcome.

The same applies to how the campaigns are flighted. The Super Bowl supplies a great example of how the flighting of a campaign can increase earned media. Over the years, we’ve seen brands latch onto releasing Super Bowl campaigns one or two weeks prior to the game. The release of these campaigns ahead of the event creates buzz and ultimately leads to an increase in views for those campaigns that release early, compared to those that don’t.

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