Paid Media’s shift to Earned Media is still relatively new. In an era where marketers are more and more internalizing their advertising processes and are continuing to use tactics and measurement instruments that do not correspond to the current reality of Internet & social media and customers behaviors, it’s time to develop skills that have not yet been enough mastered.

Here is what agencies need to understand and how to proceed if they want to stay in the game.

TRUST. Here’s the keyword for the future of advertising

You already know it, the consumer has changed a lot in recent years with social networks. Today, his purchases are mostly oriented according to the opinions and comments of other users. This denotes a real revolution in the advertising business. Consumers are expecting brands more trust, transparency, and authenticity. Criteria they struggle to find via the paid media exhibition.

In parallel, Earned Media is widely acclaimed by marketers when it comes to increasing brand awareness, developing a good brand image or winning the trust of consumers. That’s why the reputation, trust, and word of mouth that Earned Media provides is the key to success, making this tactic the most productive of business.

Unlike Paid and Owned, Earned Media has the advantage of creating a lot of commitment because it is considered very credible by consumers. The messages are conveyed by third parties and not by the brand itself. This type of exhibition inspires much more confidence than advertising or brand content. In short: it is the key to a winning advertising campaign.

There is still some way to go

But, if “Earned Media” seems to be the go-to-solution, a recent study reveals that the concept of Earned Media is still poorly known by industry professionals. Companies still have a long way to go to reorient their marketing strategies, despite a certain desire for change.

The good news? The role of advertising agencies is to accompany them in this transition. Influence marketing, as you probably know it, makes it possible to quickly and easily engage communities that do not belong to a brand. As a result, advertising agencies must today know how to support brands in creating trust, confidence, and recommendations, thanks to the power of influencers. The idea: building a truly & long lasting “earned media” strategy.

In fact, a recent study reveals that 77% of marketers would like their company to invest more in Earned media. However, the difficulty in measuring ROI, lack of short-term results and lack of know-how are the 3 major obstacles to the development of Earned Media. You understood it, the big challenge for advertising professionals today is that they must use the data at their disposal to be able to measure the effectiveness of their “earned media” campaigns. To use this data, the profession must equip itself. The good news is: tools exist today.

Measuring the ROI on social media: still relevant?

The issue of ROI is one of the major concerns of advertisers and appears as a real challenge, it is a source of pressure for marketing departments, as well as for their advertising agencies.  Here are the main difficulties face by marketers to estimate the return on investment on social media:

  • It is difficult to link efforts on social media with commercial benefits.
  • It is often difficult to isolate the impact of a device and prove that he alone is causing a number increase business.
  • Social media presence strategies most often in the long term, involve widespread and often long-term returns, hence the difficulty calculating an immediate ROI.
  • It is difficult to quantify abstract concepts such as human interactions and the impact of a reputation on the results of a business.
  • This is much more complex to calculate than the return on investment of advertising campaigns on the web.
  • They are limits in terms of traceability of results.

These limits are even more obvious for companies that do not have an activity exclusively on the Internet and using other sales channels such as for example physical stores. So, how agencies need to apprehend social media marketing to better sell to their customers (brands)?

A point on the POEM model

The POEM model (Paid, Owned and Earned Media) as made popular in 2009 by a report from the Forrester Research Institute. It proposes to divide the various media into 3 categories:

  1. Paid Media: this category refers to spaces purchased by the brands. For example, we can classify all Internet advertising formats, including social media ads, links sponsored, affiliate campaigns, contests, but also radio and TV, the display or press inserts.
  2. Owned Media: This is the media held and controlled by brands. We can classify the Internet sites, the spaces of which companies on social media: Facebook account, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, blogs, but also physical outlets.
  3. Earned Media: they represent the generated communication by consumers who become channels of information dissemination whether it is positive or negative. Word of mouth is the perfect illustration since here it is the viral aspect of the communication which is put forward. This category includes all the discussions, quotes and interactions generated on social media but also public relations activities and viral marketing actions like influence marketing practices.

Integrating the human dimension into the measure of Social ROI

Social ROI consists in bringing a human dimension to the classical equation. It attempts to consider not only purely financial impacts such the volume of sales directly generated, but also the unintended such as developing notoriety, improving satisfaction customer, strengthening the positive sentiment around the brand, the development, and services of the product or the increase of traffic on a website.

Different approaches try to theorize and find solutions to the question of social ROI. Since the rise of social media, other acronyms have made their appearances, such as ROO (Return On Objectives) or RONI (Risk of Non-Investment). Always to overcome the difficulties of estimating the ROI, some professionals try to use these methods borrowed from the press relations.

Social ROI adds 2 other measurement methods to traditional ROI: RONI (Risk Of Non-Investment) and ROO (Return On Objectives).

R.O.N.I (Risk of Non-Investment). This approach consists to estimate the risks and costs generated by a absence on social media. Here is a non-exhaustive list of the main risks to consider:

  • Inoperability of the viral aspect of communication and word of mouth.
  • The deterioration of the corporate image, especially with young people
  • Mismatching with the expectations and needs of customers and prospects.
  • The loss the contact with the consumers more and more active on the social media.
  • The deterioration of the positioning of the website in the search engines research.
    The lack of response to requests from customers and prospects.
  • The overtaking by competitors having an active approach on the social media.
  • Lack of control and inability to respond in case of broadcast negative information about the company, its products or services.

The R.O.O. (Return On Objectives). ROO proposes an alternative to the ROI. It aims to determine the level of achievement of objectives previously defined. These objectives may be of a financial nature and so bring closer to the notion of the traditional ROI, but they can also be of a non-financial nature:

  • Increase in turnover
  • Cost reduction
  • Awareness level
  • Intentions to purchase
  • Perception of the mark
  • Number of recruitments
  • Number of fans, followers, subscribers
  • Natural reference
  • Increased website traffic, etc.
  • Number of social mentions

This approach, therefore, presupposes, first and foremost, on the one hand setting clear objectives, measurable and achievable and secondly to select indicators of relevant performance. In reality, it’s all about E.M.V (earned media value)

It’s time to sell EMV (earned media value)

The concept of the EMV makes it possible to compensate for the lack of measures used in the field of social media and offers the possibility to measure the benefit of conversations between a company and its customers. The method consists in quantifying the volume of mentions, the durations of publications and the size of the spaces devoted to social media, and to compare them with the advertising pitches having the same characteristics. Some advertisers and advertising/communication agencies are trying to apply this monetary valuation method. And it works!

Advertising agencies need to understand the social ROI practice to be able to shift to “earn media” campaigns, so that they can stop buying “Paid Media” for advertisers but rather sell them “Earned Media”, which is primordial in our era of hyper socialization and where what people are saying online about a brand is far more important than what the brand is saying trough ads or sponsored content.

EMV can be easily monitored and sold when an advertising offers “influence marketing” services. Nowadays, it is possible for an agency to easily create their own network of social influencers that will promote a brand, a product or a service, in an organic way.

Knowing how to bring “Earned Media” strategies closer to business figures is essential to its development and will enable advertising professionals to sell more campaigns, to stay in the game, and finally, to become the ideal partner of brands. 

Read this article to understand how your agency can predict the performances of influence marketing campaigns before launching them.

Paul Brunier

Chief Marketing Officer at FameUS. Feel free to ask me anything about FameUS or Influence Marketing! Follow me on Twitter @paulbrunier & LinkedIn @paul-brunier

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