Although plenty of studies support the claim, most good marketers just know intuitively that Earned media and WOM (word of mouth) are more impactful marketing vehicles at the individual level than paid advertising…  You are significantly more likely to try something because your friend recommended it than because you saw an advertisement.  The challenge with Earned media is that it’s hard…  You have to rely on someone else (journalists, bloggers, etc.) to buy into your message and convey it effectively.  That makes it difficult and unpredictable.  It also rarely scales like Paid advertising.  Occasionally the story is so compelling that it can scale, with hoards of influential media writing about it.  That’s rare, though.

WOM suffers from the same issue of predictability, but is infinitely more scalable.  While there are a limited number of influencers you can Earn media from, anybody can become a vessel for word of mouth.  Importantly, both Earned media and WOM also suffer from a problem with Measurement.  Whether Paid advertising is actually all that measurable is a debate for another day.  Earned media and WOM are clearly “less” measurable than Paid media.
Enter Shared media.  Shared media is a slight but important pivot on social media, and refers to any marketing channel in which brands participate on an equal footing with their external audiences.  It’s important to differentiate Shared from social media because most leading social media sites have elements of all PESO media formats (Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned).  Whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or the top blogs, you can buy ads, build proprietary apps, pitch top influencers, and also engage on an equal footing with your audiences.

Why is Shared media so important?  Because it finally brings three critical (and missing) components to the Earned / WOM conversation:

  • Scale.  You can have conversations with millions of people in a cost effective way.
  • Predictability.  You can build an audience over time and continually engage with them.
  • Measurability.  The data here is real – not estimated based on circulations or panels.

Many marketers are beginning to understand the value of Shared media for these reasons, however, very few have effectively combined all PESO approaches to leverage the benefits of each.  Below is a chart that outlines the various PESO media formats and their associated benefits.
PESO Media


– Paul Dyer