It’s official!! Earned media outperforms paid media

Written by the Editorial Team

A new report conducted by research and advisory firm Outsell has looked into how marketers rate the effectiveness of earned media.

It found that 81% of senior marketers say that earned media (PR) is more effective than paid media (advertising and marketing) as a method for driving interactions with customers and prospects, and for building trust in a brand or product.

PR Newswire’s Senior Vice President of Marketing Ken Wincko, said: “Because of this, today’s CMOs and their teams must go from a push to a pull strategy – leveraging earned media through advocacy, third party experts, press releases and other tactics [content marketing, thought leadership, social media etc.] that build communities.”

Of course much of the reason why in our view organisations have traditionally favoured- and to an extent- relied upon advertising and marketing to build brand awareness and drive sales, is because of time.

Time is a precious commodity and it is much quicker to buy and place an advert than it is to create original content on a consistent basis. What’s more, with advertising the return on your investment is more immediate than it is with PR.

But organisations are beginning to realise that their customers are increasingly making purchasing decisions that are based on reputation – what they think of you and what others say about you.

Audiences are paying to ignore your ads

You may have the most creative adverts ever seen by the human eye, but like it or not the number of opportunities for your ads to be seen are dwindling…fast.

Figures released by the Internet Advertising Bureau in March stated that 22% of British adults online are currently using ad-blocking software – a rise from 18% in October. Earned media, on the other hand, resonates with customers because it’s grounded in quality content and meaningful relationships.

As one respondent stated when surveyed by Outsell: “We are shifting from paid to earned. We’re starting to see the needle move with more sharable content, more invitations to speak at conferences vs. paying to speak, more press coverage vs. paid advertorials.”

The Outsell report also stated that while earned media is highly effective at building brand awareness, PR is considered to be more effective than so-called ‘push tactics’ (such as print, internet and mobile advertising) for lead generation – something that will invariably surprise many reading this.

Earned media isn’t just helpful for building brand awareness. In the Outsell report, B2B and B2C marketers rated public relations more effective for lead generation than push tactics such as print, mobile and native advertising.

I spent the first 10 years of my career working in advertising for the likes of the Daily Mirror, Yell and Guardian Media before moving into PR in 2005. So I can appreciate the features and benefits of each discipline within the marketing mix.

Yes earned media is incredibly effective in building brand awareness and as a lead generating too, but its impact is most felt when it works in sync with advertising rather than in a head-to-head competition.