February 22, 2010

If social media is earned media then how do you buy it?

Picture 2The Interactive Advertising Bureau, the US trade body for the online advertising industry, has just published its first ever social media buyer’s guide.

Some will argue that social media cannot be bought, and as such is earned media. The idea that earnt media and paid media are distinct is something we always try keep front of mind in a transparent way. The importance of transparency has been keenly debated of late.

We tackled this issue in a recent presentation, and argued that advertisers can earn peer-to-peer messaging through a well-executed and well-coordinated social and paid social media campaign.

For example, a brand may buy video views as paid media on a cost-per-engagement basis through our Viral Ad Network, but generate additional video views as earned media through viral pass-along of the video.

It’s good to see a major trade body defining a nascent part of the market, given it’s sometimes tricky to measure and evaluate the direct cost of activities such as social media PR outreach compared to other more established forms of communications.

As the guide itself says: “It is accepted today that any effective social media campaign should have an owned and paid media plan as its foundation in order to achieve earned media objectives.

“Earned media may or may not have direct cost associated with it, and it can include PR, outreach, and activities initiated by users over and above any specialised paid-for engagement such as word of mouth (viral), pass along, repeat usage.”

The publication of the guide is timely given that as many as two-thirds of 133 chief marketers surveyed by the IAB said they planned to increase social media budgets in 2010, which if true should trickle down to the UK market.

If you want to download the guide, follow this link.