We know that consumers no longer shop in isolated channels – they use smartphones in stores, buy later online, etc. In the same way, they no longer consume media in isolated channels. They’re watching TV while checking email on their laptop and simultaneously tweeting about the program using their phone. It’s especially true for Millennials, who consume 26 hours of media content for every 24 hour day.

This proliferation of media outlets means brands must be everywhere at once to gain consumers’ attention – and their efforts in each medium must work together. Paid media must spark earned media that attracts audiences to owned media, etc. Rebecca Lieb, Digital Advertising and Media Analyst at Altimeter Group, calls these cross-media campaigns “converged media,” and offers tips for successful converged media campaigns in which paid, owned, and earned media work together as one.

Step 1: Understand converged media.

Rebecca first encourages businesses to understand that times are changing, and new tactics in a variety of new media channels are needed. Is this not how all multi-step programs work – step one is to admit the problem? Recognize that consumer behavior is changing, monitor those behaviors to find the new trends, and accept that no one media type or channel will ever be enough again.

Step 2: Plan a stable foundation.

Businesses and agencies can’t craft the creative for a brilliant paid ad campaign and then try to bolt on some owned and earned media efforts as an afterthought. Or, they can, but they won’t find converged success. As Rebecca puts it, “Successfully architecting strategies around paid, owned, and earned media is analogous to designing a stool. Two legs (or media channels) may hold it up, but stability and balance is achieved when the design incorporates three legs.”

Three legs by design. A great converged media campaign starts with a great converged media plan. Ask yourself from the beginning, how will your paid media attract consumers to your owned media? How will you encourage consumers to share that owned media as earned media, amplifying your message?

Step 3: Evaluate ability to achieve earned at scale.

Earned is the most difficult medium to achieve: you can’t control it, you can only encourage it – and you have to earn it (obviously). Consumers won’t share your video or blog post because you want them to; you have to create something worth sharing. Encouraging earned media is therefore an essential step in creating your paid and owned content strategies. What makes your content worth talking about? Why would anyone care to read/watch/listen to it? Always be asking, “What’s in it for the consumer?

Step 4: Align teams and departments.

The parties involved in converged campaigns cannot act in isolation – they too must converge. Un-silo the teams responsible for paid, owned, and earned content, and bring them together from the start with unified vision and goals. “Paid, earned, and owned must meet at the same table to plan initiatives, content, creative, media, and strategies that link them,” says Rebecca. Each team or department still has its own responsibilities and individual goals, just as different success metrics define each medium. The important point here is that these individual teams see the big picture, and understand how their individual piece contributes to the success of the larger campaign.

Step 5: Align agencies and vendors.

Just as teams must understand the larger goal and their role in reaching it, so must all outside parties involved – agencies, technology vendors, etc. And they must buy in to the larger forest of the converged campaign, not just their individual tree. According to Rebecca, companies like Coca-Cola use willingness to align and share goals in their evaluation of which agencies and vendors to work with.

Step 6: Sync content and creative across channels.

Chris Anderson, editor in chief of WIRED magazine, calls this step “finding your voice.” You must develop a consistent look, feel, and sound to your brand in order to authentically represent it in every channel. Your brand’s personality in TV and print ads must be the same personality in your owned social channels, your blog, your website, everywhere. One of Chris’s favorite examples is the Martha Stewart brand – every channel, from the catalogue to the television program to the social properties – authentically reflects Martha’s voice.

In part two, we’ll discuss Rebecca’s final five steps to successful converged media campaigns – from campaign production to analysis.

3 Responses to “The first 6 steps to successful converged media (paid, owned, and earned)”

  1. Glad you enjoyed it! Thank you for the presentation yesterday that inspired it. I’ll be sure to credit Jeremiah in part two!

  2. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for this thoughtful post! Just have to add that equal credit is due my co-author on this research, Jeremiah Owyang.

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