News & Views

Blurred Lines: What Happens When Paid and Earned Media Collide?

Last month at Visit California’s annual Outlook Forum I had the honor of co-presenting a session with John Mergen from MeringCarson about the blurred lines between paid and earned media. We showcased four consumer marketing campaigns, asking the audience of tourism and public relations specialists to guess which designation applied – “paid” or “earned?”

Case studies presented:

Case Study 1:

Paid: Netflix “Orange is the New Black” – New York Times Native Advertising
Native advertising is a form of paid media where the ad experience follows the natural form and function of the user experience in which it is placed. When following native’s rules of engagement,  campaigns are proven to be more effective and native ads drive more effective results at a more efficient rate. Rather than interrupting the user’s workflow, native ads fit within it.

This piece about women in the U.S. penal system provided an organic extension to the theme of the Netflix series “Orange Is The New Black.”

Case Study 1:  Paid: Netflix “Orange is the New Black” - New York Times Native Advertising

 

Case Study 2: 

Paid & Earned: Samsung’s Oscars Telecast Integration With Digital Influencer Ellen DeGeneres

The Ellen DeGeneres 2014 Oscar selfie was one of the most iconic images of that year. Once the photo was posted on twitter during the event’s telecast on ABC, it crashed the social media platform. The photo was taken by a Samsung smart phone Ellen was holding throughout the TV airing, a part of a multi-million dollar ad buy by Samsung.

ABC, Samsung and even Ellen were surprised at the power of that one tweeted photo. It highlighted the power of Ellen’s digital influence by gaining millions of earned impressions not only from retweeting but also associated media coverage.

The Ellen DeGeneres 2014 Oscar selfie was one of the most iconic images of that year. Once the photo was posted on twitter during the event’s telecast on ABC, it crashed the social media platform. The photo was taken by a Samsung smart phone Ellen was holding throughout the TV airing, a part of a multi-million dollar ad buy by Samsung.  ABC, Samsung and even Ellen were surprised at the power of that one tweeted photo. It highlighted the power of Ellen’s digital influence by gaining millions of earned impressions not only from retweeting but also associated media coverage.

 

Case Study 3: 

Paid: Cole Haan – New York Times Native Advertising

Cole Haan’s Grit & Grace campaign promoted its ballerina flat shoe line. Developed in partnership with New York Times’ native advertising team, T Brand Studio, it boasts an interesting story, original content and authentic storytelling.  There was nothing in the native ad copy that hints at promotion, just a combination of interesting subject matter and solid storytelling that informs and entertains. The campaign subtlety and seamlessly blended paid to owned channels between the New York Times’ website to Cole Haan’s website.

Blurred 3

 

Case Study 4:

Earned: Tommy Hilfiger Digital Influencer Campaign
Tommy Hilfiger has set the standard for digital influencer campaigns and engagement by harnessing a 25-person social media team that provides real time engagement with digital influencers and media, insta-meets with Instagram users that boast large followings and digital influencers outside the fashion world (arts, architecture, design, travel) to attend runway shows and cover the event through their own unique lens.
Blurred 4

 

The session provided destination marketing organizations (DMOs) with several key take-aways:

  • Consumers want good, engaging content; regardless of whether it is from an earned placement or paid placement. If it is the latter, then it needs to be labeled as such and presented in an organic way.
  • Authenticity is critical to native content and brand publishing programs.
  • Digital Influencer campaigns require detailed planning to ensure messages are consistent and that they are amplified on consumer channels. It is also important to think outside the “tourism box” and engage influencers from other niche areas that provide an alternative content creation lens (i.e. arts, culture, culinary etc).
  • Look for ways to organically integrate non-endemic marketing partners into campaigns where appropriate. This could be a transportation provider, consumer product  or service. For example, partner with a hiking boot manufacturer if you are implementing a digital influencer FAM with hiking specialists.
  • Bought, earned and owned media need to be integrated for maximum effectiveness.
  • As marketers, we need to be ready to adapt and change to new ways of engaging  consumers in order to maximize results.

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