Today more and more brand-owner marketers are turning to ‘earned’ or ‘owned’ media exposure to help build their brand(s), – ‘earned’ media being publicity gained through non-promotional channels such as PR-generated editorials, social network activity, YouTube virals, and suchlike, ‘owned’ media being where the brand owner controls the message – company blog, website, Twitter account, Facebook page. Marketers are doing so because they believe it to be free advertising, not ‘paid for’ media. Well, free doesn’t always deliver reward.
Paid media, and creative communications within it, are necessary to make the initial connection and engagement with potential customers, presenting the brand offering to them before going on to support the dialogue created by earned and, to a lesser extent, owned media initiatives.
Today, much of earned media is internet-based, initially seeding entertainment content on community channels such as YouTube and Flickr, to be propagated through social networking platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. Trouble is, these channels are now so heavily populated with content that it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. And even Facebook admits that only 10% of fans see a brand’s content organically, they need motivating to discover the place where they might engage in dialogue with the brand. And that’s where paid media, advertising, comes into its own.
Paid media can expand a campaign’s reach, engaging with and nudging prospects to earned and owned media platforms, and with earned and owned media in return helping shape the paid media’s creative messaging by providing feedback of their intimate understanding of the interests and motivations of the brand’s followers.
Having made the case for paid media remaining in the mix, this brings us more specifically to conventional, paid-for advertising’s role in the brandbuilding effort, and particularly how it might achieve standout in the cacophony of messaging out there. Advertising in its broadest sense encompasses print ads, posters, TV, radio, direct mail, etc., and the role of this media is to encourage prospect engagement with the brand. But engagement can only be achieved if the message is noticed in the first place. Which is where a creative angle is necessary.
For advertising to be effective and persuasive it first needs to have standout, cutting through the marketplace clutter for it to have an emotional impact upon its audience – be it to amuse or to surprise, to shock or enlighten – and is most effective when it encourages customer empathy with the brand by sharing a moment of insight – the ‘aha’ moment. There’s no set formula for this, it there was all brands would do the same and the approach would be ineffective – which is why uninspiring advertising doesn’t provide the ROI that creative ads achieve – proven by IPA-supported research which shows that creative award-winning advertising is 11 times more efficient than non-awarded ones in achieving market share growth. This emotional connection makes the message and the brand more likely to be remembered and recalled, ultimately creating brand fame, customer engagement and buzz, to be networked across earned media.
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