Home » OPINION » Columns » TODD SMITH — Earned media still matters, according to new poll

TODD SMITH — Earned media still matters, according to new poll



In a world ruled by social media, a new study from Ogilvy PR reminds us that traditional media outlets have not, in fact, gone the way of the dinosaur – and neither should the earned media portion of your publicity plan.

In fact, the survey reveals that earned media is still, by leaps and bounds, the most powerful resource for influencing purchasing decisions and business outcomes.

According to the study, traditional media outlets are still the most trusted sources of news, followed by influencer-driven news. News generated by companies themselves, however, ranked as the least influential. Further, The majority of journalists surveyed (65 percent) agree that the more the (traditional) media covers a brand, the more credible the brand appears (within reason, of course; they also cautioned that too much coverage looks suspicious).

Some other key takeaways from the study include:

» 44 percent of respondents feel that today’s campaigns require a combination of traditional, social and paid media.

» Almost half of respondents (47 percent) consider earned media the most influential of all when it comes to driving purchasing decisions and business outcomes.

Jennifer Risi, managing director of Ogilvy Media Influence and head of media relations for Ogilvy North America, said in the survey:

“While social media revolutionized the way we communicate … The results give a clear indication of the critical role that public relations – and earned media in particular – has to play within the integrated marketing model … Today, the power of earned media for the strategic communication of a brand’s key messages should not be underestimated – it often lends brands the third-party credibility and validation today’s savvy consumers seek out prior to making purchasing decisions,”

So, by all means, keep aiming for meaningful interactions via social media, but don’t make the mistake of tossing traditional news releases and strategic PR efforts into the trash with other obsolete things like the Rolodex.

Ad recall reveals trend

If you want people to remember a mobile ad, you’re going to have to pay for it, according to new research from digital ad firm Undertone recently published in Adweek.

Last year, Undertone worked with Ipsos ASI to look at how takeover “high-impact” desktop ads affected brand recall. This year, the company looked at how those same ads stack up on smartphones and tablets.

Undertone partnered with four brand-agency teams to test the differences between mobile and desktop ads: Dish (Havas Media), Ford (Team Detroit), Maybelline (DigitasLBi) and Philadelphia Cream Cheese (Starcom).

Each team ran one campaign across smartphones, tablets and desktops, using three of Undertone’s ad formats. An online panel of 3,600 U.S. adults ages 18 to 64 were then asked about the ads they saw.

The first format was a standard display ad, which includes mobile banners and the rectangular promos that typically run on the side of publishers’ sites. The second type was the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s Rising Stars format – like a slideshow ad you can click on or a YouTube masthead placement. The third type of ad was the full-page takeover that pops up when users refresh or load new web pages.

Of course, those big takeover ads are going to cost marketers more, and they work best when combined with premium desktop ads that are also more expensive than basic banner ads. Undertone didn’t disclose exact pricing for any of its ads.

When people were asked if they remembered seeing full-page ads, 38 percent recalled seeing the ad on a desktop. Forty-three percent of those who were served the ad on smartphones, tablets and desktops remembered the ad.

Banners had the lowest ad recall rates. Thirty-three percent of people who looked at banner ads on a desktop remembered seeing the ad later. The same percentage of people who saw it on multiple devices remembered seeing ads, meaning that solo desktop banners are just as effective as cross-screen standard ads, even though brands pay extra for smartphone and tablet ads.

For the midsize ads, 35 percent of folks who saw the ad on a desktop remembered it, and 35 percent of those who also saw it on smartphones and tablets remembered it.

The research then dug a bit deeper to ask only mobile viewers if they remembered the exact brand the ad was for.

On tablets, 45 percent of people who saw the full-page ads recalled the brand. Thirty-five percent of folks served banner ads and 27 percent of those who viewed the midsize promos remembered the brand.

Not surprisingly, the smartphone banners had the lowest brand recall with 23 percent of users remembering the brand. Twenty-five percent of folks who saw the midsize ads remembered the brand compared with 44 percent who looked at the takeover ads.

Undertone’s research isn’t particularly groundbreaking for marketers who ditched banner ads a couple of years ago, but it does lend a bit more credibility to mobile advertising working outside of Facebook or Google, two of the largest mobile players.

Political ads to reach record in 2016

Political advertising on television is expected to jump 16 percent to a record $4.4 billion in the 2016 presidential cycle compared to four years ago, showing a continued belief by candidates that broadcast and cable TV is still the best way to reach voters, according to a report from Kantar Media research.

Since the Supreme Court’s Citizens United v. FEC decision in 2010 opened the way for unlimited spending by corporations and unions, analysts say television airwaves in primary and key battleground states have been seeing sharp growth in revenues from political ads. Already Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton has reserved $8 million in TV advertising that could begin as early as November.

The desire to reach TV eyeballs may seem like a contradiction given that a growing number of people are leaving traditional television and network ratings have been on the decline – some of the ratings of the networks owned by Viacom, such as Comedy Central and MTV, are down double digits over the last year. Television viewing by 18- to 34-year-olds was down 17 percent in the first quarter compared to the same period in 2014, according to Nielsen.

And even as the campaign staffs of Republican and Democratic candidates experiment with new social media platforms such as Snapchat and Periscope, they still see TV as the most effective medium for promotion.

The rise has been steady: total political ad spending in 2012 was $3.8 billion and in 2008 it was $2.75 billion.

Fraud Mic | Hilary Clinton sent classified information over personal e-mail

A government intelligence watchdog found that Hillary Clinton sent at least four e-mails from her personal account containing classified information during her tenure as secretary of state.

In a letter to members of Congress last week, the inspector general of the intelligence community concluded that Clinton’s e-mail contains material from the intelligence community that should have been considered “secret” – the second-highest level of classification – at the time it was sent. The four e-mails in question “were classified when they were sent and are classified now,” Andrea Williams, a spokeswoman for the inspector general told The Wall Street Journal.

The inspector general’s review covered about 40 emails in Clinton’s inbox, which suggests the trove of more than 30,000 emails may contain more potentially confidential, secret or top-secret information. The inspector general referred the matter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s counterintelligence division. The misuse of her personal e-mail accounts have been well-documented for some time, but the fact that she sent classified information via a personal e-mail account smacks of fraud, and is sure to give her presidential opponents some read meat as the election cycle shifts into high gear. For that Hillary gets a short-circuited, Fraud Mic!

Each week, The Spin Cycle will bestow a Golden Mic Award to the person, group or company in the court of public opinion that best exemplifies the tenets of solid PR, marketing and advertising – and those who don’t. Stay tuned – and step-up to the mic! And remember … Amplify Your Brand!

» Todd Smith is president and chief communications officer of Deane, Smith & Partners, a full-service branding, PR, marketing and advertising firm with offices in Jackson. The firm — based in Nashville, Tenn. — is also affiliated with Mad Genius. Contact him at todd@deanesmithpartners.com, and follow him @spinsurgeon.


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