Archives for posts with tag: earned media


Seth Godin wrote lately a brief post titled: “Horizontal marketing isn’t a new idea.”

“But it is the new reality for just about every organization.

Vertical marketing means the marketer (the one with money) is in charge. Vertical marketing starts at the top and involves running ads, sending out direct mail and pushing hype through the media. Your money, your plans, your control. It might not work, but generally the worst outcome is that you will be ignored and need to spend more money.

Horizonal marketing, on the other hand, means creating a remarkable product and story and setting it up to spread from person to person. It’s out of your control, because all the interactions are by passionate outsiders, not paid agents.

Most marketers instinctively want control. We reach for the budget and the ad and the press release and most of all, the powerful media middleman. We buy SuperBowl ads or shmooze the reporter.

Horizontal marketing, though, requires giving up control. We spend all of our time and money on a great story and a great service and a remarkable offering. The rest is up to the market itself. You can’t control this, and you can no longer ignore it either.”


I do admire Seth Godin but I don’t agree with him. Successful marketers don’t choose between  either horizontal or vertical marketing. Successful marketers deploy a combination of both. The iPad is an amazing product that is the perfect example for horizontal marketing. Trust me, Apple would love to save money on advertising if they didn’t have to. But they do. Horizontal marketing only gets you so far. You need vertical marketing to get further.

The good news for brands is that you need less money to deploy the full power of paid media to get the most benefits out of owned and earned media. The even better news is when you develop the perfect mix of paid, owned and earned media you get the maximum benefits out of vertical and horizontal marketing.


It takes 3 years to become a hair dresser in Germany. The first year you spend most days sweeping the floor, cleaning tools and serving refreshments.

If the floor is filthy, it really doesn’t matter how good your haircuts are, nobody wants to come back and pay good money surrounded by hair on the floor.

When people write and speak about marketing and advertising, they assume you know how to sweep the floor. They assume you understand the impact of creative, the power of copywriting, have advanced knowledge of graphic design and UI as well as UX. They assume you understand the correlation between paid, earned and owned media, know how to measure the impact of any marketing effort and be able to distill that knowledge into a client presentation.

Too often, we fall in love with the new thing, jump ahead and embrace it.

Too often, we fail to be competent at the important thing.


We all know the lesson President Obama’s campaign taught us in 2008: Social Media can be powerful and a game changer. 4 years have passed and almost everybody learned that lesson by now.

The 2012 primary season is in full swing and Social Media is not the hottest thing in town anymore (still important), but we learned a few more lessons in the last few months:

Behold, the power of earned media.

Gingrich’s campaign has been declared dead numerous times. He had no money to spend on ads, he had no organization and no support. 20 years ago he would have had no chance to make it to South Carolina, In 2012, he won South Carolina by a landslide.


Because he played earned/owned media platforms masterfully to create even more earned media. In a world filled with 24/7 new channels, Twitter feeds, blogs and other content platforms, the beast needs to be fed constantly. Gingrich did exactly that, coming up with new ideas, new messages, new proposals every day. It clearly shows the diminishing return of paid ads and the increasing power of earned/owned media supported by paid media.

Be agile.

This has been the strength of political advertising for a while: It’s agile. You say something controversial at 5pm, your opponent will exploit it by 6pm. The marketing world is still stuck in old, traditional production cycles and outdated timelines. Communication and conversations don’t start when your first ad launches – it’s ongoing. Brands need to be more agile and leave room in the budget to reply to a crisis, exploit the weakness of a competitor or tap into new consumer insights immediately.

Forget about standard formats

What was the most talked about creative so far in the primaries? Not a 30-second spot, a 728 x 180 banner or a 60-second radio spot. Nope. It was the 27-minute documentary, released by Gingrich’s Super PAC. The old standards just feel, well, old. People want variety: long-form documentaries, YouTube snacks, podcasts. Give them what they want.

Appeal to the heart.

2004 was about fear. 2008 about hope. 2012 will be about anger. The successful candidates in 2004 and 2008 appealed to emotions, not to the brain of the voters. Romney tried to play to the common sense of voters, being the technocrat that will fix what ails the economy. Gingrich tapped into the anger of people, being the angriest man in the room. Guess who’s leading the race today?

Take risks.

As the advertising and media world becomes more fractured, you take a huge risk when you don’t take risks. Tactics that worked in the past, proven ways, ideas by committee are maybe the riskiest paths you can take at this point. There’s a moment in every campaign when you have to take major risks or you’ll drop out quickly just like Tim Pawlenty. Dig deep and understand what your brand stands for. Then take risks and lead with your gut. It worked for Clinton, Bush and Obama. It will work for your brand.


Paid Media

This business has been around since brands started to understand that paying for media increases their sales. It doesn’t matter if you’re buying TV, Print, OOH or Digital – the principles are similar. You determine where your placed media gets the best efficiency and effectiveness, and you purchase media placements that work for your brand. The latest wrinkle to this model is to partner with specialized buying agencies that can get you the best bang for your buck. Especially in the digital space, you need to work with sophisticated partners to take advantage of DSP’s, SSP’s, RTB’s and all these other inventions in the age of the quant. Your partner (in most cases an agency) will focus on putting your communication in the most relevant environment for the lowest price.

Earned Media

Earned Media is not free. Instead of paying for a placement or exchanging money with a partner for their execution, you are paying for the time and resources of people who are engaging with your brand on multiple platforms. You can deploy employees, contractors, social agencies, media agencies or your intern. You always have to keep in mind that you need to find a hook for people to talk about you. You can’t buy their attention, you need to earn it. Often, that hook is created by an outside source (agency) since brands don’t have the resources for that specific task. The people talking about you aren’t compensated (unless you want to run an unethical, ineffective initiative), instead you provide triggers to share their love of the brand. This can come in many forms: content curation, sharing content, seeding content, interacting with brand loyalists. We’re still figuring this out but we know it’s real and search engines love that. As a brand, you need to meaningfully participate in the spaces where your brands, products and services are relevant.

What paid media can learn from earned media.

If you’re boring, mediocre or just shill your products, you’ll never make it in the earned media world. You need to find ways to earn attention. This can be done through a remarkable product, service, promotion, initiative or stunt. The emphasis is on “remarkable”. The brand has to develop something that’s worth talking about. When something is remarkable, brands earn the attention of people.

Paid media, on the other hand, is often used to disrupt people. The remarkable thing about digital marketing is the technology behind the scenes. All these new exchanges and trading desks, the quants at works. Just to deliver a more efficient and relevant impression to people. This might be remarkable to all of us but the customer doesn’t care. He might be surprised/annoyed to find the same banner following him throughout the Internet after he visited a brand site. But the actual creative is absolutely unremarkable. Most display ads are forgettable commodities that communicate mainly: “Nothing to see here.” While we focus our whole attention on the remarkable aspect of our technology, we tend to forget what real good creative can do: Get people talking.

Things won’t be getting easier. It will be tougher and more expensive in the years to come to pay for attention. Too many screens, too many things to do. It’s so alluring to focus on better technology and more advanced algorithms. But if your creative/value proposition is not up to par, attention increasingly will come at a high premium.