A New Look at the Marketing Mix: Paid, Owned, Granted, Leased, Earned

December 9th, 2014

The paid-owned-earned (POE) media model hasn’t kept up with the times. While it did a good job of describing traditional media, it has done a poor job of accommodating most digital channels, which have generally been stuffed awkwardly into the owned media bucket.

We need new language and a new framework to describe marketers’ various channel activities to bring greater clarity to the marketing mix.

Three characteristics describe the channel activities available to us today:

  1. Who creates the content
  2. Who developed the audience
  3. Who controls the platform

It’s that third characteristic that requires most digital channels to be broken out of the owned media category and placed in two new categories: granted media and leased media.

Using those three characteristics, here’s a breakdown of what this new paid-owned-granted-leased-earned (POGLE) media model looks like and which media activities fall within each category.

Paid Media

Content created by the brand that’s distributed to an audience developed by a third party via a closed platform controlled by the third party.

Paid media activities include TV ads, product placements, print ads, radio ads, display ads, social media ads, ads in emails, native advertising, sponsorships, and direct mail.

The defining characteristic of paid media is that the audience for your content was developed by a third party. Regardless of the media channel, anytime you’re paying to reach an audience that you didn’t develop, it’s paid media. Basically, this is any kind of advertising.

The rise of digital channels has created more paid media opportunities, while simultaneously degrading the impact of many types of advertising.

Owned Media

Content created by the brand that’s distributed to an audience developed by the brand via a closed platform controlled by the brand.

Owned media activities include store signage, product packaging, website and blog content, and press releases.

The defining characteristic of owned media is that the brand has more-or-less complete control over the content, audience, and platform. Provided you’re not violating any laws, no one but you controls what your product packaging looks like or what content is on your website, for instance.

When defining owned media this way, it becomes clear that many of the activities that occur in social media, email marketing, and other digital channels don’t belong in this media category, as control is far from absolute. Instead, they belong in the granted media and leased media categories, which we’ll talk about next.

Granted Media

Content created by the brand that’s distributed to an audience developed by the brand via an open platform controlled by multiple third parties.

Granted media activities include email marketing, SMS/MMS marketing, and organic search.

The defining characteristic of granted media is that it is brand content distributed via an open platform, which gives the platform great reach but at the cost of having many masters, which are active participants in the channel.

Inbox providers junk and block emails from senders who their users indicate aren’t sending relevant emails, and they provide different tools and functionality to their users, leading to uneven subscriber experiences across channels for brands.

As I argue in my book, Email Marketing Rules, it’s the open platform that is the source of email marketing’s strengths—its ubiquity, vast reach, and low cost of use. For instance, The Radicati Group forecasts the email audience will grow to more than 2.8 billion worldwide by 2018. Ninety-one percent of consumers reported checking their email at least once a day, according to Salesforce Marketing Cloud research.

And U.S. marketers can expect an average return on investment of 4,300% from their email marketing efforts, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

The open platform is also the source of all of email’s weaknesses—chiefly, its troublesome deliverability, inconsistent rendering, and patchwork of coding, authentication, and support standards. Of course, these drawbacks are greatly outweighed by the email channel’s strengths, as evidenced by email marketing’s channel-leading ROI and by brands’ continued plans to invest more in the channel. According to Salesforce Marketing Cloud research, 68% of marketers say email is core to their business and 58% plan on increasing how much their spend on email marketing. (tweet this)

Leased Media

Content created by the brand that’s distributed to an audience developed by the brand via a closed platform controlled by a single third party.

Leased media activities include social marketing, social customer service, apps built in social media platforms, and mobile apps.

As others have suggested, I agree that much of the activity that takes place on social media is better classified as leased media (or rented media) rather than owned media. This is because social networks, for instance, can and do change the rules whenever they want since they own the entirety of the platform. Also, social networks can disappear, taking all of a brand’s content and audience with it, as we’ve seen with Friendster, MySpace, and others.

While the term leased media was coined to describe social media activities, it also describes mobile apps to a fair degree. Brands can’t change their mobile apps like they can their website content. Apps need approval and distribution through Apple, Google, and Microsoft, which retain the power to veto your app. And your app becomes useless if these mobile OSs go belly up. So while we tend to think of mobile apps as being equivalent to the owned media of our websites, that’s not completely true.

Earned Media

Content created by others that’s distributed to an audience developed by anyone via any platform.

Earned media activities include publicity, word of mouth, ratings and reviews, email forwards, and social media sharing and conversations.

The defining characteristic of earned media is that your brand did not create the content. Strangers, reporters, bloggers, and your customers, prospects, partners, employees, and others created it. Since the brand doesn’t control the content, sometimes it’s negative. However, when it’s positive, these messages are much more powerful than those created by the brand.

How This Impacts the Marketing Mix

Understanding these five media types can help you better craft your marketing mix, audience-building efforts, and customer journeys.

It starts with figuring out the cost-value for each of your audiences, because an email subscriber, a Facebook fan, and catalog subscriber, for example, all have different costs associated with acquiring and reaching them and generate different amounts of value for brands. This will give you better visibility into where to focus your efforts and how best to create customer journeys that build high value-audiences. In general, that will likely lead to campaigns that use paid media to drive engagement further down the funnel in leased, granted, and owned media—and that use leased media to drive engagement in granted and owned media.

For instance, it has become increasingly clear that social networks are not the best place to build audiences and not a great place for long-tail content because of the leased media nature of social publishing. Social networks excel at real-time conversations, short-term contests, and similarly ephemeral content, which play to social media strengths in earned media activities like social conversations and amplification.

More substantial content is better hosted on your owned media website or blog, and integrated into an email marketing program, making use of the unparalleled reach and stability of this granted media activity.

The media landscape is more complex than the paid-owned-earned (POE) media model would lead us to believe. To better accommodate digital media activities, it’s time to add granted media and leased media to the mix and recognize the uniqueness of those media types.

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