Three separate worlds:
- Paid media such as advertising and sponsorships.
- Earned media such as Facebook likes, Twitter tweets, search engine rankings, and every other review and comment that other people make about you.
- Owned media such as your web site, microsites, landing pages, mobile apps, your brand’s Facebook page, your YouTube channel, and so on.
Well, for marketers they’ve been three separate worlds. Typical marketing org charts and agency/vendor boundaries sharply delineate these domains, often with electrified fences.
But to prospects and customers, there are no boundaries. It’s as effortless as crossing state lines on a long road trip. There’s just a natural flow between brand awareness and interest and the experience that follows — whether it’s on your web site, in your store, or via some other digital or physical space that you have responsibility for.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but these crossings are where most companies screw the pooch.
Your audience’s hopes and expectations are ignited out in the open worlds of paid and earned media, and as quick-as-a-click they’re in your owned media world, ready to have those hopes and expectations fulfilled. Oh, and they’ll judge you mercilessly in earned media accordingly. Because to them, you only have one identity across all these media: you are “you.” And if “you” appear schizophrenic, that’s bad.
The underlying organizational walls between those three worlds — and their various inner compartments — may be invisible to your audience, but the effects of them are quite palpable. They manifest themselves as disconnects. A leads to B, but B doesn’t follow from A.
You make a promise in a Google search ad, fail to follow through with it on your landing page, outright contradict it deeper in your web site, while promoting a better deal on your Facebook page and letting your mobile web site languish with an offer from 6 months ago. Heaven help the pour soul who then reaches out to your brand’s Twitter account for clarification.
Customers don’t see the electrified fences, but they feel them.
As the number of moving parts in each of these domains multiply and become ever more sophisticated, these unpleasant shocks become more frequent. And to the customer, whose expectations are rising, they’re becoming more annoying too. You’re being held to a digital experience standard set by technological wizards at Apple, Facebook, and state-of-the-art web start-ups.
There’s really only one solution: marketing leadership must unite these media in their vision and day-to-day operations. It’s daunting, but inevitable in an age where media has already converged for your audience.
There are not three worlds. There’s only one: converged media.
So says a brilliant — and free — Altimeter report titled The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned, and Earned Media by Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang. If you haven’t already, get it now.
They describe the forces behind this convergence, the problems that current marketing organizations facing in adapting to it, and a number of good recommendations for how to start addressing it. Interestingly, I found them making the case for agile marketing without explicitly using that term. But as you can see in their converged media workflow in the diagram above, real-time measurement and iteration are at the core of converged media operations.
If converged media is the “what,” then agile marketing is the “how.”
My column this month on Search Engine Land, Framing The Bigger Picture Of Landing Pages, focuses on the implications of this convergence in the context of paid search and owned landing pages. It’s some of the most exciting efforts happening in the conversion optimization space these days, and it’s all about improving internal coordination to achieve a smoother external experience. The same kind of opportunity exists at the intersection of all the other marketing silos. (This was the same essence of my presentation: everything is marketing, everyone must be agile.)
The gauntlet has been officially thrown down: Mr./Ms. CMO, tear down these walls!
Before your competitors beat you to it.