‘Shared Media’ Is the Future And Will Disrupt Media Buying As We Know It

“Shared media” is outperforming traditional digital advertising by 10 times. So what exactly is shared media, and why is it so successful?

“Shared media” is outperforming traditional digital advertising by 10 times. So what exactly is shared media, and why is it so successful?

In traditional media buying, the advertiser buys audience exposure from a publisher, broadcaster or ad network. The publisher or ad network shows the ad to its audience and is paid by the advertiser according to the number of people reached.

With shared media, the advertising brand provides tools to its own loyal audience to create and share branded marketing with their peers, a form of guided word-of-mouth marketing. Snapchat, for example, with its branded filters that enable users to create and share branded selfies or videos with their Snapchat friends, has proven that, given the right tools, consumers will market on behalf of the brands they love.

And, shared media is far more watched and trusted than any conventional advertising message can ever be because a company’s loyal followers have a lot more pull with their own friends than a brand (or anyone else for that matter–that’s the definition of a friend).

To set a broader stage, digital advertising is poised for disruption. For years, the only way for brands to reach a broad audience was to pay the TV networks, for example, for ad time. And then when the Internet took off in the 1990s, brands began to buy ads from websites and ad networks the way they’d always bought TV ads–simply moving budget to the new medium.

Now that mobile is taking over as the consumer’s primary screen, brands are using the same tactics–but the old playbook is failing badly. Consumers hate interruptive ads on mobile eight times more than TV ads (AdReaction “Video Creative in a Digital World” Global Report from Millward Brown) and consumer trust for ad in general is declining, which means brands need to radically shift the way they reach their target audience.

And yet brands continue to funnel more and more of their media budgets to digital channels to follow the eyeballs, because it’s what they know.

Mobile presents brands with both a huge challenge and a tremendous opportunity. While the challenge of traditional ads proving ineffective on mobile is real, the opportunity for brands is real, as well. In fact, it’s right in front of them.

Their own audience is now connected everywhere they go, and they’re sharing moments with their friends and family nonstop. The brands that are able to join these conversations (without interrupting them) are the brands that will win on mobile.

It’s time for brands to stop thinking about which network to spend this year’s ad budget on and instead turn the focus to activating their own existing audience.

All brands have reach–some to millions or even billions of consumers. That reach may come from their own web visitors or application users, from within their product experience itself, their packaging, their retail presence and, for some, their live events. A brand’s reach–not its budget–is its biggest asset for growing its business.

Activating a brand’s audience is as simple as giving its loyal followers the tools to promote the brand to their friends, just as Citi did with its Today Show Concert Series sponsorship with Selena Gomez.


Concert goers could create and share Selena-branded videos which served as a force multiplier for Citi, enabling it to, for every one person attending the concert, engage over 150 more not attending with branded mobile video.

In today’s connected world, consumers themselves have reach to a highly targeted, lookalike audience of friends and followers. The average consumer connects with hundreds of friends on places like Facebook and Twitter and several-hundred more contacts in their mobile phone’s address book. And when a consumer shares something of interest, their friends engage at astonishing rates–rates far higher than when a brand interrupts a consumer with whom they have no real relationship.

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