Book Review: Paid, Owned, Earned

From TV spots to social media, the tools of modern advertising have become diffuse. With so many channels available, where do you start? Should you sacrifice old media for Twitter? How do you get something to go viral?

The truth, according to “Paid, Owned, Earned: Maximizing Marketing Returns in a Socially Connected World,” is that new media hasn’t replaced old media. Rather, advertisers are operating in a new digital ecosystem, one based around networks, behaviors and people. The idea is to build a media system that optimizes your brand’s presence. There are three main components at work:

Paid channels, including advertisements and search. These feed users into owned and earned locations.
Owned content hubs (your website, social media, apps, events, etc.). These dedicated online assets make brands available for conversation when the consumer wants to have it, which is 24/7.
Earned media, which happens when customers, community, viral content, etc. contributes to word of mouth, brand credibility and loyalty.

In his in-depth look at modern advertising, ZenithOptima Head of Social Media and Digital Innovation Nick Burcher breaks down today’s complex media landscape into digestible bites. Rich in case studies, theoretical background and research, “Paid, Owned, Earned” acts as a software upgrade for the advertiser’s brain. If you’ve ever wanted to know what works in today’s media world, why it works and how to execute it, pick up this book. If you’re a seasoned online marketing expert, some of Burcher’s tips will be familiar, but the theoretical background and insights he provides will still make the book worth reading.

Rich in depth and detail, “Paid, Owned, Earned” starts by covering the ways in which traditional models for advertising have changed. Next, Burcher addresses listening, an important precursor to building advertising objectives and strategy. Once advertisers have mined social media chatter and feedback to learn how their brands are perceived, they can build an executable paid-owned-earned system from there.

Burcher then goes into the mechanics of the paid-owned-earned process — what each segment contains, how to best harness it and how to make it an interdependent part of the entire system. Among other components, that includes the creation of social hubs and content and optimizing campaigns. Tools like viral seeding and harnessing mass media in order to gain paid traction are discussed, as are more qualitative strategies, like how to distribute content so that it spreads, and how to use customer service as a branding tool. In the end, Burcher discusses measuring campaign success, qualitatively and quantitatively.

The idea of building a viral brand is attractive, but nebulous. Burcher himself admits that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to getting something to go viral. But by educating readers on the new definitions around advertising, and by providing theory- and experience-backed tips on what to do, Burcher gives readers the tools they need in order to design their marketing system for success.

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