Making the Case for Paid Media in Your Marketing Strategy

Earned, owned, and paid media are the trifecta of a successful media strategy. Incorporating all three into a converged media strategy will increase your marketing returns better than just using one. So, is there a case for using one form of media over the other?

To start, let’s take a quick look at each form of media.

Earned Media – Earned media is the form of media you get from word of mouth. It includes online reviews from customers, news mentions, and social media interactions. Think of it as the press you get without paying for it.

Owned Media – Owned media includes all content that you own and have complete control over. It includes your ad copy on your website, articles on your own blog, and your social media profiles.

Paid Media – Paid media is any form of media that you pay for. This can include press releases, sponsored articles in newspapers, and regular advertising such as pay-per-click and banner ads.

Out of the three media types used in your marketing strategy, paid media can be one of the most effective. Here is why.

Paid Media is an Effective Branding Tool

The goal of branding is to have people remember who you are. The best way to do this is to get your name in front of everyone so they know who you are in the first place. Paid media accomplishes just that.

Press releases can be used to blast your name in media outlets and introduce yourself to the world. Online press releases are indexed in Google so they will show up in search results and on Google News.

Placing banner ads on websites will keep your logo and name in front of people who are searching online. You can do this through various ad platforms who will serve your ad to websites of your choosing. That way you can target a specific audience if you wish.

Native advertising, which is essentially paying to have an article written about you, is also a great form of paid media. You can get a sponsored article in The Wall Street Journal or many other publications by simply paying the publication to have it done.

The drawback of native advertising is that it will be marked as being paid for, but as I will discuss below, that may not really matter when it comes to marketing.

Potential Customers Often Don’t Know It’s Paid Media

Most advertising is obvious to the reader. Banners ads are obviously paid for as are pop up ads or most commercial emails. Other advertising such as display ads from Google AdWords are commonly known by users as advertisements. But, what about native advertising?

You have seen articles in publications such as The Wall Street Journal that are marked as “paid” or “sponsored” articles. This means that the subject of the article paid the publication to write the article and is essentially advertising. However, everything about it appears like a regular article in that publication.

Here is where you benefit as an advertiser. Most people don’t know the difference between a regular article and one that has been paid for. This, despite the fact that they are labeled as such.

A recent study by Contently showed that 80% of people reading an article in The Wall Street Journal were not aware that it was native advertising.

Sponsored article in The Wall Street Journal. Highlighted areas show that the article is native advertising. However, 80 percent of people surveyed who read the article were unable to tell that it was an advertisement.

From the screenshot above, you can see that it is clearly marked as a sponsored post. There is even a link to the term sponsored content (“What’s This?”) that explains more to the reader. However, the majority of people reading it were unable to tell.

If you are looking to market yourself in major publications, native advertising is a quick way to do it. It can also save you time from relying on media outreach or word of mouth marketing.

Paid Media Gets You There Faster

As I just pointed out, paid media can get you there faster. But, faster than what?

Using owned media is inexpensive and quick. You can post an article on your blog in less than a minute and consider your marketing fast. But, how many people are going to read it? By having a sponsored post or paid advertising on a popular website, you get your name in front of potential customers immediately.

Earned media is great, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Reviews and social media interaction come from trust. You cannot have trust unless you have customers and you cannot have customers without advertising in the first place.

It is just natural that paid media be one of your first forms of media that you use, especially if you are a startup.

Final Tips on Including Paid Media in Your Marketing Strategy

As stated in the introduction, you really need to combine all three media types in order to get the most return out of your marketing strategy. The hard part is determining what percentage of each you should use.

How much paid media you use depends on your ultimate goal and current digital footprint. If you have little in the way of branding and want to get the word out quicker, paid media is the way to go.

When developing your marketing strategy for profitability, make sure to adjust it from time to time once your brand becomes more noticeable. You will be able to spend less money on paid media and more time on media outreach and earned media.

Have you used paid media as a way to brand yourself? Tell me your experiences, including what percentage of your marketing strategy is built around paid media.

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Anthony Gaenzle

Founder at AnthonyGaenzle.com and Head of Marketing and Business Development at Granite Creative Group at AnthonyGaenzle.com and Granite Creative Group
Anthony is the Founder of AnthonyGaenzle.com a marketing and business blog. He also serves as the Head of Marketing and Business Development at Granite Creative Group, a full-service marketing firm. He is a storyteller, strategist and eternal student of marketing and business strategy.
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