Actionable Marketing 101
Media is the serving of content, generally created by professionals, to an audience aggregated around a topic of interest and delivered in a variety of formats on a regular schedule. Like other companies, media entities have formed brands with consistent and identifiable characteristics that help to attract readers, staff and advertisers. Among the major media brand attributes are the type of stories covered, point of view espoused, voice including language used and accent, overall presentation, visual assets incorporated, and technical polish.
Traditionally, media has been created by firms focused on delivering content that generate income by selling advertising, subscriptions and related products. Those media businesses that use public utilities like airwaves for television and radio may be regulated. Over time, newer technologies for creating and distributing content continue to evolve resulting in expanded media options. With the growth of the Internet, media creation has expanded beyond traditional content professionals. Now, every business with a website is a media publisher and consumers are, at a minimum, content contributors, if not publishers themselves.
3 Major media types described
In today’s multi-platform world, here’s how the three major media options, third party media, owned media and user-generated media, can be used. Using these definitions, social media can appear in all three categories.
When choosing a media strategy, it’s critical to consider your target audience’s location, the context of their media consumption (offline or online), device(s) used, and concurrent activities and/or media consumption.
- Third Party Media (aka Paid Media). This is traditionally what people think of when they hear the word media. It’s content created by professionals that can be mass distributed or targeted and can be distributed across offline channels like newspapers, magazines, radio or television and online channels like portals, online media sites and Twitter. These media entities excel at aggregating audiences around a topic that can be either broad or highly focused. From a marketing perspective, they’re great for building brand and expanding reach due to their audience size.
- Benefits. Third party media provides mass reach quickly, which can be difficult to achieve otherwise, and brand association with the media entity.
- Challenges. Third party media cost can be expensive depending on the property. It requires advertising development and is difficult to track to sales.
- Owned Media (aka Internal Media). These are media properties that a company and/or its brands control. They establish a firm’s footprint, which is particularly important online, help convert sales regardless of where they’re initiated, and provide post-purchase support. Like third party media, owned media extends across both offline channels including physical stores and catalogs, and online channels including websites, mobile presence, email, and social media platforms. As a result marketers must create content in multiple formats that’s timely and focuses on more than promotion and sales.
- Benefits. Owned media enables companies and products to be findable, build prospect file, answer customer inquiries, convert prospects to buyers and support post-purchase consumer needs.
- Challenges. Creating and maintaining content especially with regard to integrating it into the marketing process adds cost, support headcount and related technology. Less obvious are the expenses associated with managing the increased complexity
- User-Generated Media. Taps into consumers’ desire to create content and share information. For these individuals, it’s about expressing themselves and being social. From marketers’ perspective, this content is most useful when it focuses on products. However it’s important to understand that it also empowers dissatisfied customers to distribute negative messages. For example, United Breaks Guitars and Comcast Sleeping on My Couch. It can help build a media entity such as TripAdvisor, support purchases such as Amazon’s ratings and reviews, and/or tap into customer loyalty such as Gap’s photosharing. From a marketing perspective, the great feature of user-generated media is that it can extend your reach via earned media. Earned media is additional media views that don’t have a direct media cost because they result from viewer sharing.
- Benefits. User-generated content helps marketers by providing feedback, initiating product needs, qualifying sales, and connecting with fans.
- Challenges. Since user-generated media isn’t controllable, marketers must vigilantly monitor the media landscape to protect their reputation and respond to negative issues where appropriate requiring additional headcount and systems.
In today’s multi-platform world, it’s important to assess which media formats are needed at each step of the purchase process to meet your marketing goals. Then, develop appropriate content that makes sense in the context of the media forum and your target consumer. Content creation takes work. To this end, it’s important to bear in mind the rule of thumb that 90% of your visitors will read or lurk, 9% of your visitors will comment and/or share, and 1% will actively contribute content. Further, owned media and user-generated media must connect with your product, buying process, and customer service to ensure that you’re able to close sales.
Photo credit: Matteo.Mazzoni via Flickr