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Business - Written by on Thursday, April 1, 2010 14:08 - 2 Comments

Denis Hancock
Earned Media, and the incredibily shrinking marcom expense line

Long time collaborator Sean Moffitt – who’s currently busy writing the upcoming book on “Wiki Brands” with Mike Dover – provided a link to an interesting presentation from Nokia yesterday. Much of the focus is on how marketing is now about conversations, not broadcasting messages – advice which, in my opinion, has been taken way to far in the social media space (as I’ve regularly discussed on my blog). But today I wanted to focus on the part of the deck I found most interesting – slides 28-40.

To provide some context, one of the big research projects we’re working on in our Marketing program is called The incredibly shrinking marcom expense line. The basic idea is that by enabling, among other things, ambient intimacy, social media is pointing towards a future where marketers can shrink their marcom costs, while at least maintaining current levels of impact. Facebook fan pages, twitter, online communities, and newer services like Yelp all play a hand in this.

In the Nokia presentation, slide 28 starts out by outlining three different ways to optimize your presence in the ecosystem – SEO, SEM, and SMO (search engine optimization, search engine marketing, and social media optimization). It then quickly points out that less than 30% of this is “bought media” – the SEM part. 70% of engagement comes from the other two – 40% SEO, 30% SMO. The first is what they call “own media”; the second is “earned media”.

I really like this idea of “earned media” – and how it’s distinguished from the paid part of ecosystem presence strategies in particular. As referenced earlier, I disagree with the blanket statement that “earned media” is all about conversations – in my mind, it’s all about earning the right to be within an individual person’s ambient network, which is based on offering them what they want (which may or may not be conversations). But the visual presented on slide 39 – where “bought media” shrinks, and “earned media” dramatically increases in the future – is the right message.

Once people start thinking this way, I believe my explanation of why “nothing is holding social network advertising back” becomes clearer. The conversation about approaches to marketing has long been dominated by a spend-centric point of view (i.e. if you don’t spend much on social media, it must not matter). In this world of “earned media”, marcom spend can indeed be low – and many things have no direct costs associated with them. But, the impact can be great – if you earn the right to make the proper connections.



2 Comments

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Jude
Apr 1, 2010 22:11

About six months ago I finally took the plunge and started using Twitter regularly. I found that my primary use for it was as an incoming feed for media consumption rather than something more interactive and two-way. On web forums they call ppl like me “lurkers” as opposed to “posters.” Although I respond to people who message me, I tend not to seek people out for this purpose – my primary intent is to consume media with the added bonus that if I want to I can reach out on special occasions. I think it’s important to recognize that different people use the technology tools for very different purposes and as you mentioned Denis, the increasingly pervasive thought that digital marketing has become simply conversations is overblown by the social media hype.

I would prefer to think of Earned Media as Earned Attention with the distinction that in order to get different people’s attention, one strategy might work well for one person, and not well for another. One tactic may also work well in one digital space, but poorly in another because people’s intent may be different depending on the tool. There’s the old expression in marketing that you “go where your customers are” and I think this makes a lot of sense but I think it can also be misleading for companies just diving in. Simply going where your customers are is not enough, you need to satisfy certain expectations, and the challenge then is that most of those expectations are about satisfying “me”, not about satisfying a brand’s needs. That said, I do believe that the brands that figure how best to satisfy me, wherever I am, will be the ones that earn my attention, and once they do that, then I will want to share my brand satisfaction with other people, or otherwise engage with that brand further.

Social media: if the customer is in control, you might be doing it wrong
May 4, 2010 14:31

[...] to check it out. It builds on one of the key research projects I’ve been working on – The incredibly shrinking marcom expense line – which looks at ways that marketers can use social media to reduce marcom expense, while at [...]

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