A recent marketing discussion on Facebook surfaced the criticism that paid media, in a world of earned, owned, and paid, should be unnecessary, that if you do amazing and awesome work in earned and shared media, paid wouldn’t need to be part of the mix. This has been a familiar refrain ever since the debut of permission marketing and inbound marketing, all of which operates on the premise of “if you build it, they will come”.
The reason for much of this criticism of paid media is similar to the criticism that public relations and earned media are so frequently doubted: most of the time, paid media is done poorly and thus delivers poor results. Most of the time, public relations is done poorly and thus delivers poor results. If paid media were easy, cheap, and effective, there would be no ad agencies. If earned media were easy, cheap, and effective, there would be no PR agencies. Superbly executed paid campaigns can bring people to the door of your company just as well as a superbly executed PR campaign.
You can make your paid campaigns shine even more by making them so compelling, they become earned media. Take, for example, this TNT ad:
Thousands of commercials are uploaded to YouTube every day, and millions of dollars are put behind them. Even with all that money, it’s a struggle for some of these videos to net even 100,000 views. This paid media has clocked over 45 million views so far because it’s so well done, it provides entertainment value all on its own.
The two most common reasons paid media fail? First, of course, is a lack of compelling content. A terrible ad that provides no value will attract no audience. The second reason is a lack of resources backing the effort. You cannot expect a five star meal on a fast food budget, and you cannot expect Madison Avenue results on a tiny budget. If you’ve tried paid media and not gotten good results, chances are one of these two reasons are the cause.
Remember that the ultimate goal of media (paid, earned, owned) is to bring in new audiences. Part of that is getting their attention, and a well-executed ad can deliver attention faster than any other form of media because you buy access to the audience that you want, when you want, as long as you can afford it.
Christopher S. Penn
Vice President, Marketing Technology