‘Rented’ media as part of the Paid, Earned, Owned mix

Like many other marketers I have spent a lot of time thinking about the Paid, Earned and Owned media model.

It has always been the easiest way for me to explain to colleagues and clients how social media fits within the broader scheme of things.

I came across a historical summary of the model by Steve Sponder and as is often the case, PR (in a traditional sense) gets a bit of a kicking.

In all honesty, I don’t really care what the stuff is called, as long as it is done well and plays its part.

But its like a radically new movie or book, we feel compelled to assign things to a genre (mainly so we and the people around us can understand).

So, for arguments sake, I took a look at the original iteration of the Paid, Earned and Owned model and interrogated it with a PR hat on.

The original Forrester model


Now, I think there are two fundamental flaws with this model.

  1. Where does PR fit? (By PR I mean the placement of ‘free’ editorial content within larger scale 3rd party media outlets to stimulate interest / debate)
  2. Earned media is classified incorrectly in my opinion from a marketing perspective. If anything, having your customers talk about you is the desired OUTCOME of your marketing activity, which then is a powerful sales / decision-making driver.
So, in sticking with the language theme, I reckon there is an argument for this addition to the model:
 At our agency, we often talk about ‘owned’ media being re-purposed in a traditional PR manner – this still very much applies and why, in my opinion, the best social media operators appreciate the PR function / process e.g. using relevant editorial content to be featured beyond your own channels.
So, let’s take this a little further now, how would the Forrester model look if we added ‘rented’ media to the mix.

The updated Forrester model

The last thing I want to do is complicate an already complicated picture, but when I look at the model this way, I feel it better represents the current landscape, and hopefully helps explain how agencies can work together in harmony.
But, I’m not totally satisfied yet.
As Jeremiah Owyang said so well in a recent post:
“If consumers don’t differentiate between “Paid, Owned, and Earned” so why are marketers segmented by different departments and have separate agencies that do each?  Does a ‘social media agency of record’ actually slow progress?  Can a marketing effort be more effective if all of these methods are used together?”

He has a very good point, and I think having a ‘purely’ social media agency of record can slow the process down.But, I say that from a biased standpoint because of the way we operate as an agency.We see the ‘owned’ and ‘rented’ activity as partners, who when working together are far more powerful.The following is an illustration of our typical role with our clients.

Now, this is a pretty simplistic chart but it doesn’t need to be more complicated.

To summarise, we see our role as ‘concept creators’ who develop content (of all types) that encourages engagement and ultimately, sharing.

We can’t ignore the role ‘paid’ media has to play either, which means that utopia as far as brands are concerned is a model like this.

Is that such an outrageous proposition?

If you were building an agency from scratch tomorrow, could you divide your troops into these three buckets?

Call me an idealist, but I reckon this is possible.

I reckon, this is might be how it all ends up.

What do you think?


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