Some businesses will use traditional advertising as the default method to market their product to consumers. Although ads can be an effective way to raise awareness about your newly launched business and product or service offerings, it is not always the most suitable option.
It is the norm for people to research products online before buying. In fact, 81% of consumers say they conduct research online by searching Google or reading reviews before making a purchase. They want to know the pros and cons of a product or service before making the investment, but they don’t trust brand advertisements to get it.
We’ve run a number of successful advertising campaigns at 10twelve, on behalf of clients and our own businesses, but we’ve also noticed a shift in the last several years. If you really want to make an impression on audiences, then you need to go beyond traditional advertising.
Downsides of Traditional Advertising
Traditional advertising has come a long way since the days of Mad Men. Now, ads can be more targeted, personalized and interactive than we ever imagined, but many argue that they aren’t always the most effective option for businesses. Here’s why:
● Adblockers - As of December 2016, 236 million Internet users actively use adblock plugins when browsing online on their desktops.
● General dislike and mistrust - In a study by Adblock and Hubspot, 64% of participants said they blocked ads because they felt they were disruptive and intrusive.
● Accidental clicks - Oftentimes, people click on digital ads by mistake, which can create misleading and ineffective ad results. In the same study, 34% of people reportedly clicked on an ad by mistake, while 15% said they were tricked into clicking. Based on a report from eMarketer, in 2015, display ads cost companies $4.6 billion in invalid traffic including fraudulent traffic.
People will do almost anything to avoid advertisements, whether it is leaving the room during commercial breaks or installing an ad blocker. There’s also a lot of other noise that businesses have to cut through to get noticed. People have limited attention spans and are exposed to thousands of brand messages trying to sell them something or take some action.
So, how do you spread the word about your brand, boost sales and connect with current and potential customers if the effectiveness of traditional advertising is waning by the day?
Paid, Owned, and Earned Media
The key is in knowing the three types of media--paid, owned, and earned--and how each plays a role in your marketing strategy. First, let’s start with what they mean for businesses.
When you pay for ad space and messages to be shared by a third-party, it is paid media. This includes:
● TV and radio commercials
● Product placement
● Online and PPC ads
● Social media ads
● Banners ads
Traditional advertising is paid media. You are trying to get people take a specific action, usually to purchase your product or service, and you have control over the message.
Owned media is when you communicate or share content directly through your own channels that you control. Owned media includes:
● Social media pages
● Case studies and research
Although owned media is still controlled by you, it is not considered as promotional as advertisements or paid media. When well-crafted, it should provide real, tangible value to your audiences and industry.
When you have great owned media content, you can attract earned media. This is when third-parties like consumers, media and industry thought leaders start to notice your brand and create content around it. Examples include:
● Press mentions
● Online reviews
● Other forms of user-generated content (UGC)
Receiving earned media is like reaching the gold at the end of the rainbow. If you build up enough high-quality, engaging owned media, you could see the real benefits develop through earned media.
With earned media you aren’t investing anything directly into creating or distributing it, so it is not a cost to you. However, it can quickly produce huge benefits like boosting product awareness, increasing sales and building a positive brand reputation.
How and Why to Shift to Owned Media Model
Consumers don’t want brands to tell them what they should or need to do. They want to have a conversation. They want brands that are transparent, honest and open with them. Consumers will know if your business isn’t. There are more resources at consumer’s disposal than ever before, so it easier for them to uncover the truth and express their disappointment and frustration with brands. This is why traditional advertising simply isn’t as effective as it was 20 or more years ago.
However, that doesn’t mean that advertising is completely irrelevant and obsolete. Traditional advertising may not be as effective as it once was, but it can still be a key tactic to raise awareness and meet the bottom line. Your overall focus should not be on traditional advertising though. Instead, it should be on producing high-quality, owned media content that is valuable and engaging to your audiences.
As Patrick Dodd, president of Nielsen's global retailer vertical explains, “Consumers will be quick to distinguish marketing messages that are simply trying to sell from tools that actually help their shopping efforts.”
Consumers want brands to give them information, education, facts, testimonials, and other resources that help them make their own decision as to whether or not a company or product or service is right for them. Here are a few ways that your business can focus on owned media:
● If you don’t have a company blog, create one and post content on a regular basis. Content should offer tutorials, insights, and other information that is relevant to your specific audiences.
● Record video tutorials and DIYs to help individuals learn how to use your product in creative and useful ways.
● Partner with influencers to produce audience-geared content.
● Share promotions, sweepstakes and deals on your social media channels, website or blog.
There are countless ways that you can incorporate owned media into your business, but make sure to document your strategy. Establish goals and ways to measure the effectiveness of your efforts. You are still investing resources to create owned media, so you need to set the parameters to calculate your return on investment.
For small businesses, there is an upside to this shifting focus from traditional advertising to owned media. For instance, businesses don’t need to pour thousands into expensive TV commercials or ineffective ad campaigns to reach consumers. Owned media can also have a longer shelf life than an ad campaign. Ads may spike engagement when active, but fall back down when the money going into them stops. Owned media can help cultivate long-lasting and loyal customer relationships years after they are first created.
With owned media, you are providing value to your customers at a price point that is usually much lower than traditional ad spend. Still, you need to craft an owned media strategy and produce consistent, high-quality content for your audiences. It may take more time and attention to develop owned media, but the benefits can often outweigh the initial investment. If you think you don’t have enough time to devote to owned media or have more questions, reach out to a professional agency like 10twelve. Our team specializes in producing engaging content and marketing to help businesses grow.