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The paid, owned, earned model revisited

| 8 April 2015

Businesses are always looking for new ways to create relevant and interesting content that their audiences will want to share.

But once we have this content, how can we make sure it is being put to the best use? Nokia marketer Dan Goodall offered us an answer back in 2009 with the now famous Owned, Bought and Earned model for digital media.

It focuses on content marketing and highlights three ways brands can target and channel their web content, and what happens to this content once it’s been shared. The three channels are:

Owned media

Owned media is what the business itself fully controls. These are the company’s media spaces: website, blog, email, packaging, catalogue, any retail stores etc. The brand has full editorial control and ownership.

Bought media

Bought or ‘Paid’ media is exactly that; it is media space that the company has had to pay for to advertise the business: Pay Per Click, Display Ads, Remarketing Ads, Promotions etc. There is always a direct cost involved for the business.

Earned media

Earned media is the online word-of-mouth that has hopefully been created by the first two channels: viral trending, mentions, shares, likes, reposts, reviews or recommendations. Essentially, it is any content that has been picked up organically and shared on a space belonging to a third party.

However, one thing we can rely upon is change, and the digital world particularly seems to modify itself dramatically every few months. The previous Owned, Bought and Earned model is currently being looked at by businesses in more detail and the three channels are beginning to segment. The more detailed PONBE model, which includes the Borrowed and Network media channels, is possibly a more effective strategy to employ:

Network media

Network media is the media relations a company has with the blogger community and other PR and influencers. It’s all about impelling other people to write and talk about the brand.

Borrowed media

Borrowed media is the social networking world: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Not owned by the company, these are borrowed media spaces where businesses can have a profile and discuss their brand with an audience.

Because of the shift in the social media platforms towards paid social activity, these two channels are now moving away from being purely earned media (where their content can be shared openly and without restraint).

The ‘organic reach’ and sharing capacity of these two channels may only be fully appreciated by many brands now that it is becoming more challenging to accomplish.

A recent example would be Facebook’s algorithm changes, which have cut down the amount of brand posts in the news feeds of their consumers. This has caused apprehension for some in the digital marketing industry.

The bigger named platforms such as Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest are beginning to follow suit, leaving only the ‘third tier’ of smaller social networks for businesses to build relationships and share content without paying a premium. The wheels would seem to be in motion.

There is a common thread linking these latter two channels with Owned and Bought media - all four are directed at a first generation of audiences, and businesses can still plan for them. There is, however, a marked difference in the amount of editorial control available.

Earned media continues to be the only way to reach the next generations of audiences and remains champion of the content marketing channels. For brands looking to share content, this is the channel that will continue to work long after the content has been posted; although, it is no longer as simple as just sharing something on a social network brand page.

So, how can we create something that people will want to keep reposting or commenting on over and over again? What is it that makes a piece of content go viral? The best approach seems to be to tell a story.

If you’re aiming to reach beyond the first generation of audiences a brand will need to reach out and inspire, generating advocates and supporters. Recognising these advocates and inspiring them and others to share their stories may just be the most crucial evolution content marketing will undergo for years – and the best way for businesses to utilise all five elements of the PONBE model.

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