Last week, Altimeter Group released a new report, “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned, and Earned Media”. The report explains the convergence among traditional paid advertising, brand owned content and channels, and social and traditional earned content. The report also maps out a checklist of success criteria to create a Converged Media strategy. Recommended reading for sure.
What we are seeing
We help customers proactively manage and publish owned media with the Spredfast platform, while enabling monitoring and response to earned media. And as social networks continue to innovate on paid, promoted products we are increasingly finding ways to help our customers leverage these resources. We are regularly talking with CMOs and Digital Marketing leaders who are pushing hard for better integration – and even convergence – of their work across all communication channels. Our most progressive customers already live this convergence today:
- The social media team leaders are often part of a larger Digital Media group that is responsible for coordinating owned and earned – and ensuring that paid (often managed by an agency today) is aligned. Our customers like Aramark and Whole Foods are leading the charge here. Checklist item B4 – “Align Teams and Departments”
- Our customers typically plan content 4-8 weeks out so that they take advantage of the unique capabilities of each media and have the best opportunity to not only share, but respond to earned conversations and behaviors. Checklist item C6 – “Align Content/Creative Across Channels”
- They plan for and staff teams to engage with their audiences to help all of this content reach and resonate. Companies and agencies like Intuit and Edelman are publically harping on the necessity and opportunity to delight social customers. Checklist item C7 – “Real-time capabilities”
- They measure and evaluate performance across channels. Much work to do still here, but many of our customers are combining social metrics with traditional KPIs to understand overall campaign performance. Brands like AARP are tying together brand content with constituent behavior and actual funds raised to show the relationship and connection between the three. Checklist item D11 – “System for Identifying & Measuring KPIs”.
So, these progressive companies can check many of the boxes on Altimeter’s preparation checklist. Yet virtually every one of our customers will also tell you that many organizational and operational challenges remain. So, the journey of convergence is just getting underway.
Why Convergence is Coming
There are several important trends that are top of mind for our customers:
Brand Consumers are demanding convergence. In the past, having separate print, digital, and TV ad strategies was common. Marketers were sending multiple messages to customers at any given time. That is no longer the case. As connected consumers interact with the second screen while watching television, and multi-task across multiple devices, they”™ve come to expect a seamless transition across all the presences one brand has online and offline. This expectation is at the heart of the need for convergence. For the Enterprise brands we work with at Spredfast, this can mean managing seamless experiences across hundreds of Facebook and Twitter accounts, coordinating this activity between hundreds of employees and finding a way to operationalize these programs for scale. As consumers expect to connect with more people at a brand, find specific, relevant content across in more places (think local social) and have more conversations at the times they care to connect, an SMMS system like Spredfast is playing an increasingly vital role helping brands translate these expectations into reality.
The Social Networks are forcing convergence. They are decidedly – and delicately – figuring out how to sell space in the newsfeed and timeline. This drives paid, owned, and earned together in the heart of the social experience. “Right rail” ads that we are conditioned to ignore will be complimented (or replaced) by targeted content sent to you because you or a friend likes or follows a brand. It is already happening – but scale is coming. We will get some insight into how well this is going when Facebook announces their quarterly results on Thursday. It is clear from consumer feedback, though, that opening this revenue channel without killing user experience is the fine line Facebook, Twitter and others will have to walk – with brand marketers at their side.
Marketers are excited about convergence. The Targeting now available on several social networks at the result of this convergence is incredibly attractive. As a marketer, one of the things I like best about Facebook and Twitter paid content promotion is the targeting. By paying to promote already compelling and engaging content on the social networks, I gain access to uniquely rich profile data. Titles, employers, age, sex are all now available as targeting criteria. This means that brands will need to move out of broadcasting “marketing megaphone” posts to large audiences and develop multiple posts specifically targeted to key audiences. Brands that do target will see better engagement. Brands that do not will come to be recognized as spammy in the newsfeed. Paid content targeting will rapidly become a must-have capability – not a nice to have.
What does Convergence really mean?
The Content Demand Beast is coming – and it is hungry. With the opportunity to target more directly, comes a huge demand for quality content to engage diverse audiences. As the report says, most brands are not set up to generate a lot of content. They have traditionally relied on agencies for this. What is clear is that content strategy, segmentation and dissemination will become a required competency for brands.
For additional content food for thought, check out a different Altimeter report - “Content: The New Marketing Equation” by Rebecca Lieb.
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