The New Advertising Imperative: Converging Paid, Owned And Earned Media Strategies

How many times in the past six months have you read or heard someone reference the phrase “paid, owned, and earned”?

I’d venture to say that the answer is more than you can count on your hands (and maybe even your feet as well!). In this post, I’ll explore the evolution of social media marketing that eventually led us to the paid, owned, earned trifecta, and I’ll dive into a few brands that have found success employing it.

The Social Maturity Curve

As brands first began experimenting with social media, they were focused on the acquisition of fans, followers, and advocates. Number of “likes”, hashtag use/trends, and fan increase, these metrics of social success were easy to track and quantify. Soon after, as social media platforms designed solutions for brands, companies began formulating social and digital teams who understood and realized the value and speed of online word of mouth.  Through industry and analyst research, they learned that consumers are more likely to engage and transact business with brands that integrate social media, and so they began cultivating content that inspired engagement. From this new interaction, they began seeing actual, authentic expressions – opinions, stories, photos, Tweets – earned out of engagement with their consumers. Wanting more and more of this valuable direct contact, brands began finding ways to generate this compelling content and drive people to sites that contained other authentic content. In doing this, converged media was born.

What is Converged Media?

Termed by Altimeter Group, converged media is defined at the intersection of paid, owned, and earned media. Paid media is everything that you spend advertising dollars on from TV to online to radio to print. Owned media includes your website or other corporate content, and earned media is the organic social amplification of word of mouth. Brands who are architecting new experiences that converge paid, owned, and earned media are the brands that are winning. These brands are engaging audiences across multiple screens, capitalizing on authentic content, reaching new fans, and boosting audience participation.


Hollister has done an incredible job converging their media efforts with their #InHollister campaign. They created an interactive destination for consumers to use their collective voice to unlock a special promotion. Because consumers had to Tweet in order to activate the deal, Hollister fueled social content, amplified their brand, and sparked the generation of earned media. A stream of real-time content on their website created a fresh and dynamic experience for visitors and encouraged people to join the conversation. By investing in Twitter Promoted hashtags, Hollister increased campaign exposure, drove people to the website, and subsequently, spurred further consumer participation.  As a result, Hollister saw over 40,000 #InHollister Tweets and an over 600% increase in mentions. Further indicating the power of activating consumers through social, site sales increased by 45% from the average day.

(To read more about Hollister’s successful campaign and their converged media strategy, check out their case study.)

Big Ten Network

The Big Ten Network created BTN Connect, an online social community for their biggest fans. An interactive, second screen hub, BTN Connect showcases stats, buzz, and social conversations around the players and teams in the conference.  An activity map highlights areas around the nation where social content is heaviest, and an #askBTN Q&A allows fans to ask questions to their favorite profiled athletes. Although the experience receives organic social reach, BTN wanted to invite new consumers to the site who would not have otherwise been exposed to the Connect experience. By purchasing Twitter Promoted Products, BTN ensured expanded, new viewership. As a result of their converged media efforts, BTN increased participation rates, boosted social reach, and cultivated a large amount of traffic.

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