How Marketers Turn Earned Media Insights Into Paid Media ROI

Jonathan Gardner

The perennial goal of marketing is to drive the most revenue from the lowest investment. This drove the growth of spray and pray fraud-ridden ad tech tactics and broad-based strategies that proved inefficient for driving brand discovery. More recently, this has led brands -- especially up-and-coming challenger brands -- to embrace efficient, cost-effective earned media tactics such as influencer marketing, visual content and social media marketing. While it may seem these conflicting forces are trying to drive investment in either paid media or earned media marketing, the brands we work with are finding that new tools make investments work across their entire marketing mix. The rising tide of quality insights and data from earned media can lift all of a brand’s paid media boats, enhancing the efficacy of ad campaigns.

Building awareness and starting consumers along the discover-to-buy pathway starts with driving familiarity with your brand, along with interest and engagement with your products. When you must build awareness with a large group that cuts across demographic and psychographic categories, the traditional strategies of a broad-based campaign make the most sense. This is where you’d traditionally spend a lot of money across broadcast, out of home (think of those new brands that use subway car takeover ads), print, sponsorships, digital advertising, etc. -- the type of “everywhere” campaign that blasts the maximum number of people very quickly.

Recent history has shown these methods to be truly timeworn. It’s gotten very expensive to drive mass awareness with paid media campaigns. What’s more, the fracturing of attention and the exponential growth of devices and channels has made it very difficult to cobble together an audience at scale. And, the digital component means spreading media dollars around an ad tech ecosystem that is far from transparent and prone to quality, fraud and context issues.

The brands we work with recognize the tremendous value in optimizing their earned media strategy. This especially true challenger brands across categories such as cosmetics, fashion and consumer products (CPG). Social media marketing, influencer marketing, public relations, and content marketing have all emerged as scalable, authentic communications channels more suited to helping marketers meet brand discovery challenges. ShareIQ has been at the forefront in the earned media space, unveiling a slew of tools that give deep insights into the performance, value and actionable insights from earned media programs.

What gets our customers really excited is the integration of smart social media and visual content strategies with their paid media programs. If someone engages with a brand’s content --  viewing, sharing, liking, etc. on Pinterest or Instagram -- it’s seen as a pretty strong signal of interest from that person. Furthermore, if someone engages with a competitor brand’s content, that’s a good indication that those people should be targeted for conquesting as well.

When brands start to get deep and analytical with earned media, they begin to open the door to using that data to inform all of their marketing and then take action on those insights. Our customers would learn for example, that specific content they post performs well, it performs better when this influencer posts it, it does best at this time of day, it gets shared and re-posted to these networks and websites, etc. What’s more, they get the same depth of insights about their competitors’ earned media and visual content strategies.

ShareIQ tools make it easy for brands to see who engaged with theirs or their competitors’ content on social media and to create custom segments for audience targeting and retargeting of those prospects on Facebook, other social media platforms and websites.

When a brand has deep insights about who is engaging with what content, when and where, the possibilities for actionable insights and potential revenue are endless. Maybe you want to see who’s posted romantic images on Pinterest or Instagram to target them with paid media about jewelry or travel on Facebook. Perhaps you want to see who’s posted images of exercise and fitness to target them for sports apparel purchases. Or, what if you’re a CPG company and want to target people who post a lot of food and recipe content? It could be that you’re a furniture retailer and want to target people who post a lot of home design and DIY content. You could be a cosmetics brand and want to target people who post a lot of makeup selfies.

The idea is to get the deepest understanding possible about how your earned media is performing. Brands have never before had access to the level of detail we provide about their visual content performance and its value. Beyond simply knowing that a single post got a lot of likes on Instagram, ShareIQ gives the most extensive insight available about earned media content. What happens after that image your brand posted on Instagram gets a lot of likes? What about when it gets shared to Pinterest and gets pinned and re-pinned there, and then it makes it to Tumblr and ends up back on Instagram, and so on, for months and months? Brands can now understand the lifetime value of that visual content: for the first time we can quantify the value of all that media creation and engagement.

We make it possible to take all of that insight and use it to power the entire marketing mix. Once you know how much value your earned media is generating and the strategies to optimize performance, it makes sense to incorporate that back into your paid media strategy. Did an organic Pinterest or Instagram post perform really well? That content should be used in paid media programs and paid posting tactics. Did you identify new customer segments from people who saw or engaged with your visual content? Why wouldn’t you maximize marketing impact by creating custom audience segments for targeting with ads on Facebook?

It’s a given that modern marketing means that no function or channel can operate in a silo. While there are pros and cons to both earned media and paid media strategies, we’ve seen that brands succeed when they work with a partner like ShareIQ to get the deepest level of actionable insights about their earned media and use them to inform and optimize everything they do.

Find out how to get the full measure of your earned media value.

The perennial goal of marketing is to drive the most revenue from the lowest investment. This drove the growth of spray and pray fraud-ridden ad tech tactics and broad-based strategies that proved inefficient for driving brand discovery.
Jonathan Gardner

Jonathan is vice president of marketing for ShareIQ, based in New York City.