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Reimagining Media: The case for Integrating Paid and Owned

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The legacy separation of paid and owned media channels that has served marketers adequately in the past is now well beyond its use by date. Today's marketing landscape requires a new approach that delivers full integration of paid and owned media across the dimensions of strategy, technology, data, and execution.

It’s a truism of life, that “sometimes you have to let go of what's behind you in order to see what's in front of you."[1] What has served us well in the past ceases to be useful as the world around us changes.

This is also true of business, and at this moment in time, our industry. The legacy separation of paid and owned media channels has served marketers adequately in the past but it is now well beyond its use by date.

The marketing landscape has evolved significantly over the past decade, driven by multiple waves of digital transformation, the emergence of new platforms, and a dramatic increase in the volume of actionable data generated. In parallel, customer expectations, buying patterns and behaviours have continued to fluctuate and change, most recently driven by the pandemic and tightening economic conditions. All of this has made the job of marketing far more challenging.

Hampered by historical conventions, the industry’s approach to channel planning and execution has not kept pace; responsibility for paid media and adtech remains the remit of Media agencies, while CRM agencies look after martech and owned channels. Both also now need access to customer data. With the looming threat of cookie deprecation, capturing first-party data has become a priority. This data is also critical to navigating the complexity today’s marketers face and delivering the growth demanded by their organisations. But simply making it available to media agencies does not go far enough. It’s time to let go of what no longer serves us.


The Benefits of Integrating Owned and Paid

Today's marketing landscape requires a new approach that delivers full integration of paid and owned media across the dimensions of strategy, technology, data, and execution. The benefits of doing so are clear.

Reduced orchestration overhead: integration of media strategy and execution reduces the agency co-ordination demands on already stretched and resource-strapped marketers.

Actionable, data-driven insights: Integrating owned and paid channels supports the collection of customer data from a wider variety of sources. Analysis of this data provides deeper insight into customer behaviour, preferences and emerging needs.

Improved customer experience: integrating owned and paid channels, enables the design of seamless, consistent, and personalised customer experiences across an appropriate mix of touchpoints.

Increased marketing efficiency: Optimising spend and resource allocation are significantly easier when planning and measurement are truly cross-channel. With a more holistic view of the customer’s journey, the impact of various touchpoints on desired outcomes can be attributed leading to improved performance.


Whether your goal today is to do more with less or to squeeze more from every dollar of marketing budget, the savings and improvements from these benefits add up to a higher return on marketing investment over time.

So, beyond exploiting the connective power of data and technology, what’s required to deliver these?


New approach, new model

Supporting marketers to realise the benefits outlined requires completely rethinking the approach to media strategy, planning, enablement and execution. It gives rise to the need for a different mix of capabilities that combine expertise in programmable media with data-driven customer experience management.

Data-driven expertise: This has two components:

    • the ability to collect, store, analyse, and derive actionable insights from customer data and continuous testing
    • the ability to use data to segment, decision and personalise at scale

Cross-channel integration: The capacity to orchestrate marketing activity that spans various channels, without loss of context. This requires proficiency in using data and models dynamically at the point of interaction. The customer should experience a single conversation with no need to “repeat’ themselves.

Personalisation and targeting: Proficiency in executing highly targeted and personalised marketing activity at scale - understanding customer preferences, behaviour, and demographics, and using this information to deliver relevant and engaging content.

Marketing technology and automation: being well-versed in the latest ad-tech and martech solutions. Requires expertise in managing multiple platforms and technologies that allow for efficient management and optimisation of activity.

Engineering customer experiences: involves understanding customer expectations and preferences, mapping customer journeys, and crafting interactions that meet customers' needs in the different moments of each journey.

What is perhaps less apparent is that it also entails a cultural shift that underpins a restless, fact-based orientation with a collaborative customer-centric focus. Arguably the best media and CRM strategists have always combined these two facets – it must now become the norm.


Unlocking growth

The advertising industry's legacy separation between paid and owned channels is no longer viable in today's marketing landscape, which demands a more connected and data-driven approach. It is time to consign it to the past where it belongs.

In its place we need a future fit approach that requires nothing less than rethinking how we plan, enable and execute communications. Embracing the integration of paid and owned channels can support marketers to increase the generation of data-driven insights, optimise spend and prioritise resources. It has the potential to enhance customer experiences and make the relationships between brands and customers more valuable to both, ultimately delivering incremental growth.

The first step is to be willing to embrace the change required. Change is a precursor to growth. And that too is true in business as well as life.

[1] The original source of this quote is unknown.