Evolution of Media: Paid To Earned To Shared

Mobile continues to change (and challenge) the landscape of traditional advertising. Since the first newspaper advertisement appeared in 1704, “Paid Media,” where an advertiser pays a publisher to access that publisher’s audience, has been a primary way for brands to promote themselves.

On the other hand, “Earned Media,” where brands reach an audience more organically, through media coverage and influencers sharing content, has been the less expensive means of gaining awareness.

This combination of Paid and Earned Media have been two anchor points of marketing strategy for decades. However, both models are currently under fire.

The rise of ad blockers, bot fraud, muted video, and simple banner blindness, where consumers naturally ignore ads, all point to a decline in the effectiveness of Paid Media.  Earned Media is also losing its impact as consumers have increasingly turned to aggregate feeds to obtain their news, scrolling through thousands of headlines and rarely clicking through to read full articles.

They have become skeptical of influencer promotions.

How can brands create awareness as these two pillars of marketing become less effective?  As the mobile-social revolution continues, where every consumers is now a publisher with instant reach to hundreds of their peers, brands are turning to their own audience to create and share content with their brand message included. This is Shared Media.

Marketing through word-of-mouth from trusted sources has been around since the beginning of time. Spreading useful or fun information to peers still remains what audiences like to do and, with mobile’s ubiquity and social and messaging platforms gobbling up consumer time, the opportunity to share is anytime, anywhere and with reach around the world.

Consumers are sharing at incredible rates and, for brands, the opportunity is to join these conversations, not interrupt it. So what exactly does Shared Media look like?  It could be sponsored brand filter on Snapchat or a video shot and shared with friends through Facebook or Twitter or messaging.

Nielsen found that 83% of respondents trust recommendations from their friends and family. Given the high degree of confidence audiences place in the opinion of their peers, brands are turning their focus to where there are no barriers of trust to overcome.

At the same time, advertisers are capitalizing on the “need to share” phenomenon.

Although consumers like to share what they believe their peers will like, they also don’t want their conversations to be interrupted. For brands to succeed in Shared Media, they must identify nonintrusive ways to connect with their audience. They need to find ways to engage and empower users to share their stories.

Shared Media provides brand authenticity that savvy audiences - especially millennials - crave. Audiences feel empowered when they are given control over how and where to share a brand’s message. Brands have massive audiences that they can reach in various ways, through their social channels, websites, apps, chat bots, on their packaging and at their live events or retail presence. 

When they tap that audience and engage their best customers by providing easy tools to share with their brand assets and even perks and incentives, consumers respond in amazing ways.

Brands continue to throw marketing dollars at Paid Media and, at best, reach audiences without truly connecting with them. Earned Media is often ignored and, per Ad Age, even when influencers share content, the impact is limited.

The next logical step is to focus on what provides authenticity, by making it easy for brand ambassadors to engage their peers. Shared Media is the natural evolution from Paid and Earned Media. Just as the preferred screen has transitioned from TV to mobile, brands also need to revisit their position on paid advertising and activate their current audience to amplify their message.

When they do, the results are like nothing seen before in mobile marketing.


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