Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Blending of Media Types

Why do we segment media by type when consumers don't?

We often speak in terms of {blank} media when discussing marketing plans and budgets.   But considering channel blur and fragmentation we're often left wondering just what a given media type is good for.   Here's some thoughts.

First, what is 'media' from a business or marketing sense?   Without the qualifying adjective like broadcast or social the term simply seems to describe 'a vehicle for conveying a message'.  This can range from buying a 1/4 page in a magazine to seeding a viral video.

Second, the different kinds of qualifiers need definition.   Some common classifications that center on the distinction between the control and reach of content include:
  • Paid Media: the exchange of value for the placement of a sponsored message.   Usually this is buying ad space in one or more outlets. Typically the tradeoff is in terms of content control and reach. 
  • Owned Media: the use of a firm's assets to cover both the content and the distribution; it covers everything from publishing to email and direct mail.  Typically we are sacrificing reach to control or tailor the content. 
  • Shared Media: the leveraging of others for both content and distribution.   Often, both the content and the distribution happen without any control creating a level of risk.   
  • Earned Media:  the value of a placed story, event or action or simply 'news coverage.'   It grew out of the need to place a value on public relations activities so that it could be compared/aggregated with Paid Media.  
Here's an example of the various media types associated with Facebook.  While limited in scope, it does illustrate the point that the categories can often overlap.  


The above discussion doesn't reflect a 'channel' per se and allows for some interesting debates.  If I pay you to blog for me and then distribute it via a number of vehicles is that 'paid', 'owned', 'earned' or 'shared' media?

The consumer probably doesn't care much about any of this discussion; we're gazing at our own navel.   Since she consumes whatever she finds interesting regardless of how we is classified we should think more about gestalt media: the net effect of surrounding a consumer with interesting content. 

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