Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Media's Added Dimensions

Magazine article Marketing

Andrew Walmsley on Digital: Media's Added Dimensions

Article excerpt

Owned and earned media have become crucial to the success of marketers' brand strategies.

Twenty years ago, media was the bit that was covered in five minutes at the end of a creative pitch, in the unlikely event the planners, creatives and suits didn't overrun. Specialist media agencies that broke out from under this yoke were, rightly, determined to address this and shine a spotlight on what was often the biggest cheque most marketers signed.

However, their focus until now has remained limited to the sort of media you pay money for. Forays into sponsorship were still effectively buying space, and product placement was left to specialists.

For 20 years, media agencies have built a business on a one-dimensional - if lucrative - interpretation of what 'media' represents. However, today's media environment is three-dimensional. Smart marketers are finding a fresh context for bought media that makes it part of a broader media strategy, and that strategy is not always driven by a media agency.

Bought media remains an important tool in the marketer's box, but digital has helped grow two previously inaccessible dimensions of media Owned media and earned media have emerged as crucial drivers of value for brands, and leading players must be able to manage them effectively in concert with bought media.

A retailer's high-street estate has always been an important component of its brand presence. However, for many brands the main point of contact with consumers is now the website, significantly raising the medium's value.

For many sectors, such as automotive brands, websites provide a low-pressure environment for prospects and existing owners to explore the product set. This 'owned' media is widely recognised as a vital touchpoint as consumers consider purchase, and businesses have successfully integrated websites with call centres and other customer-service points to respond to demand.

More recently, a third dimension of media has come to prominence. Social networking has embedded itself into consumers' lives with dizzying speed, placing the power of shared knowledge in their hands. Fuelled by search, social networks are now a critical influence in product choice and brand perception.

A pounds 20m TV campaign can quickly be undermined if consumers' online search for the brand uncovers a forum post reading, '(Brand) has awful customer service - I wouldn't recommend it to my worst enemy.' That is a real example, by the way.

In response to this, brands have been attempting to come to terms with social networking. Those who do this successfully understand that their presence in these environments is not automatic; it has to be earned. …

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