Posted on | March 26, 2011 | 6 Comments
The 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?