Misconceptions about own, bought and earned media

Posted on | March 26, 2011 | 6 Comments

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Own bought earnedThe semantics around own, bought and earned media definition and use is a topic that surfaces in discussions more and more often nowadays. An article on the later developments of the model is well worth a read too.

The basic model is very very clear and concise – if you use it right. However, over and over again I stumble upon situations where it is somewhat misunderstood.

I’ve found that the grid is most useful for content categorization. It is not all that useful for categorizing spaces, media outlets or “channels”, whatever you want to call them, even if that is what it is mostly used for. Take Facebook for example. If you look at it as a channel, you would have to look at it as one entity, right?

So in which box would you put it? Earned, would some say, others would say own and the guy responsible for your media buys would point out that there’s ads too in there. See the problem? It does not comfortably fit into any of these alone.

Facebook, like many other social networking services, encompasses all the three aspects. You have your own fan page, which is only partly your own though. You control the look & feel to some extent, you send out status updates and create campaigns and other engagement activities, but your fans write on your wall, upload photos and  either choose to participate or skip being engaged with your campaign activity.

Sponsored stories on Facebook is another interesting dimension. Not your traditional media buy activity is it, when you add the earned media aspect to it.

You could also look at companies like  Amazon and ask from their perspective if amazon.com is Amazon’s own media? You have Amazon’s infrastructure there for sure, but added on top of that are 3rd party sellers, ads, user reviews and whatnot.

Most times when I point this out in  a discussion involving categorizing your websites, social presences, campaign activities and other digital spaces according to the OBE model, the response is something along the lines of: “well we have to put them in some box, it’s just semantics.”

I disagree, as with this issue, it is not just semantics. By trying to fit Facebook or any other “media outlet” into any of these boxes shows that you have not understood the model and thus it becomes unusable. Obviously some spaces with a very clear and simple purpose may fit into just one of these categories, but increasingly the lines are becoming blurred in between these three.

If us marketeers fail to explain this to ourselves, how can we expect anyone around us understand what we are trying to achieve and how to construct your marketing ecosystem?


6 Responses to “Misconceptions about own, bought and earned media”

  1. Daniel
    March 26th, 2011 @ 12:41

    As things are getting more complex, I personally feel that the model is losing it’s utility.

    it seems that your main point is that the model is best used for categorizing content types instead of channels? Or maybe it should be for listing OBE “activities”?

  2. saara
    March 26th, 2011 @ 18:33

    Yep that’s the main point and activities might have been a better way to describe it. As channels are encompassing more and more of all the three aspects I personally find it quite hard to use it for channel categorization.

    So agreed on your point about the model having lost some of it’s utility – especially if you try to strictly follow the model in organizing your activities or teams around the three aspects. Something I’ve recently noticed :-)

  3. Daniel Goodall
    March 29th, 2011 @ 21:30

    yep, that’s kinda what I wrote in a comment at the bottom of my original post on the subject :)


  4. Jussi
    September 16th, 2011 @ 17:46

    Any framework is inadequate to tackle all aspects of marketing. I see that O-B-E is still a very relevant and simple way to organize the marketing strategy. I recently met two organizations who were overwhelmed by the complexity of their marketing. After plotting their tactics into O-B-E structure things became much clearer. We even added ATL and Retail under the structure.

    I think spending too much energy on one touch point and debating under which domain it belongs is useless. And like you said Saara, sometimes you fit it under all three domains. Key target is to simplify complex and that’s what O-B-E does well.

    Backlink to that article: http://www.ownboughtearned.com/web/2011/07/own-bought-earned-framework/

  5. saara
    September 17th, 2011 @ 15:41

    Jussi, exactly fully agree with you on that the model is still very relevant in making sense of the complexities of digital marketing. A lot better than anything that has come out since.

    My point was not to criticize the model itself, but point out that like any model, it has it’s shortcomings if it is being interpreted too rigidly.

    Great article by the way on the framework. I have to disagree on the placement of the branded social networking services presences though 😉 Which brings us back to the point about why models can never capture the full complexity.

  6. The POSSE media model « ALL THAT IS GOOD
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    […] Although it is still a good way to think through your media options, it does feel as though the model is a bit too simple nowadays. […]

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