Cannes Lions 2014: Why Cannes shows we should put 'owned' media first: Belinda Rowe, ZO

Q&A with the chair and managing partner at ZenithOptimedia, on owned content, and how to create strong bonds with consumers

Jun 23, 2014 01:56:00 PM | Article | Campaign@Cannes

Why do you think owned first communication is more effective than paid first?
You don’t have to look too far at Cannes this year to see the rapidly evolving way that consumers engage with brands. In the faster and more fluid era of marketing we live in – with the rapid growth of digital and social media – marketers are being released from the constraints of leading their communications with paid media. ‘Owned’ content and platforms now offer the chance to give a much richer and more powerful experience for the consumer. In the digital era, people don’t take things on trust; they value real experiences, peer guidance and expert recommendations. Brands that have created the strongest bonds with consumers e.g. Google and Amazon, have been built without advertising – they have instead remained fluid, offering meaningful value exchanges with consumers.
Does this mean the “death” of the TV ad?
TV is not dead. Far from it. However, the limitations of starting your communications with a 30-second TV spot are now very clear. TV still has a very important role to play but what we’re saying is that a new outlook needs to be taken whereby owned media is placed at the forefront of communications and the experience of that brand offering is delivered through its owned media assets from online video and photography to written content and music. They key element is putting the consumer’s experience at the heart of the story.
How much of an advertiser’s media budget, on average, should be spent on owned media? (And how much is spent at the moment)
This very much depends on the brand. When activating an Owned First strategy, channel prioritisation should be based on relevance. Where are your audience now? What kind of audience are you trying to attract? Only once these questions are answered can you decide on budget divisions – and then this must be followed up with extensive testing to ensure you’re maximising the opportunities available. Making effective use of owned media is the future of marketing communications and brands need to invest in valuable owned media assets if they’re going to be future-proofed.
ZenithOptimedia says owned media produces higher levels of consumer engagement than paid media. Can you give us some stats to show this?
Our ‘Touchpoints ROI Tracker’ research, which charts the changing nature of influence across paid, owned and earned channels over the past decade, indicates that owned channels are 30% more influential on average than paid channels. The evidence shows that brands that are regularly publishing high quality content are prospering in this new landscape. A good example to bring this concept to life comes from the FMCG sector which has been traditionally wedded to TV advertising. Last year Reckitt Benckiser launched a new website for its Vanish stain remover as a resource for people in that ‘help!’ moment when trying to tackle a stain, offering genuinely useful and shareable content on removing different stain types. Visits to the website using related search terms increased by 1,000% in 18 months and in 2012/2013 the brand enjoyed a 25% increase in revenue – a clear ‘Owned First’ success story.