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Paid vs. Earned.

For many years, advertising and public relations had very clear differences: ads were contrived and paid for, and pr hits were earned organically. Marketers used advertising to brand their product (or service) and generate awareness, and hoped to earn the highly coveted media placements from independent journalists and news outlets through painstaking media relations efforts. This is not groundbreaking information, but it is important to mention it when considering how the differences have evolved.

Why it matters.

Studies have shown that consumers will give more credibility and value to an article or TV news story than to a paid advertisement. This is because of the implied third party endorsement from the journalist or media outlet that has published the content. It boils down to the fact that most consumers don’t always trust the advertiser. This is especially true with new brands that have not developed this “credibility”. What consumers don’t know is that many news stories (in print, online and TV) are often packaged for journalists and editors. This influence is not apparent, but more than likely at play.

The evolution.

The credibly factor from third parties has evolved into the online world. Online mentions on Twitter, Facebook, and back-links from credible websites that appear in organic search results are valued by consumers.  When you search for a particular product or service, you’re more inclined to click on the first few organic results instead of the paid ads appearing on the top or the left.

What blurs the lines even more is Native Advertising.  This type of online placement uses “editorial” content written by the advertiser that is placed in a strategic location by the publisher. It has a small disclaimer stating that it is “Paid Content” but fits seamlessly into the website’s content flow. Remember advertorials in print magazines? Well, Native Content represents its digital evolution.

Click here to read our complete take on Native Advertising.

Well, which one is best?

In simple terms, both are valuable and worth considering for your marketing mix. When discussing advertising and public relations, you cannot leave out social media, content marketing, and search engine optimization.  With print, TV, digital and mobile worlds colliding, you cannot mention one without the other. The question is not:  Which one do you choose? The right question to ask is: What is the right marketing mix for your company or organization?  The answer will never be the same. There are many factors to consider:

  • Are you an established/recognizable brand or a fresh new face in the marketplace?
  • Are you an online retailer, a brick and mortar business, or both?
  • Do you have a well-funded or shoestring marketing budget?
  • Is your industry regulated with strict advertising and promotion rules (e.g. legal, finance, etc.)

All of these factors and more should be considered when engaging in a marketing campaign. Contact us if you have any questions about your advertising, public relations or marketing strategy.