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Can Paid Media Be Your Company’s Secret Marketing Weapon?

With scores of channels, hundreds of tech solutions and a seemingly infinite amount of different approaches – the world of marketing has never been more complicated. For some brands, the sheer amount of choice available can make it incredibly difficult to identify where they should invest their money. While initiatives such as cutting-edge social media campaigns and augmented reality experiences have their place in the modern marketing mix, it may be that the ‘old-fashioned’ technique of paid media may be the simple answer many brands are looking for. 

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Although, I should point out that thanks to technology, there’s nothing ‘old fashioned’ about how paid media campaigns can now be designed and run. 

So why is paid media worth considering? Let’s begin by tackling some common misconceptions. 

First, paid media has moved a long way from the puff pieces you might remember reading in newspapers and magazines. They often had outlandish headlines and hyperbolic copy about the virtue of a product or service all under the thin veneer of being ‘news. It was questionable as to who these pieces were designed to appeal to and convince. Modern paid media is much more about thought leadership.

Effective campaigns focus less on overt selling and instead discuss issues pertinent to the reader. They often provide useful advice or timely insights. The goal is to provoke a positive association with the reader – ‘this brand helped me out’, ‘this brand has an informative position on this important issue’ or ‘this brand knows what it’s talking about’. From there, the reader should become more receptive to buying goods or services from the business because they trust or understand it more. 

Next in the list of misconceptions, is the idea that paid media is ‘dumb’ – by which I mean it cannot be tailored and targeted. This is also an outdated notion. The media landscape has fractured to such an extent that media outlets have naturally got more specialist and focused audiences. Companies, whether B2B or B2C can easily target publications or blogs that align exactly with their potential customer base. Ad tech platforms make it easy to manage this process.

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Websites themselves are becoming increasingly dynamic – enabling different copy to be delivered to different users based on specific demographic data. Paid media copy can be as tailored and targeted as any ad. Added to this mix is the explosion in popularity of newsletters which provides another format to run a highly targeted paid media campaign. 

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Paid media can also seem limited to some brands because it doesn’t have much in the way of shareable potential.

After all, who would tweet or post on Facebook what is essentially advertising copy?

Again, this is obsolete thinking. The line between journalist-produced articles and content from other sources is now very blurred. It matters less to people where the content originated from or who wrote it and more whether it has anything important or useful to say. Therefore, a well-crafted and timely thought leadership piece delivered via a paid campaign can be just as shareable as anything produced from an ‘earned’ media campaign (e.g. via PR). 

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The final misconception, which I touched upon above, can be the belief that paid media simply has a lower ROI than other marketing outputs. The idea is that negotiating and paying for copy space, drafting engaging content and monitoring the output is not worth the time and effort. After all, you can produce one ad and run it on multiple websites. This is an easy position to tackle – because the numbers speak for themselves.

A recent analysis by Verizon Media, revealed that branded content increases purchase consideration by 16%, with 45% of consumers reporting they would be more likely to recommend a brand after reading branded content. Those are outstanding figures. ROI improves further when you consider that paid media campaigns are much more affordable than they were even five years ago. Technology, which does the heavy lifting of automating the negotiation of deals and management of content and reporting, also means that the resource requirements for paid media has never been lower. 

This old way of thinking about paid media means that many companies fail to add it into their marketing mix. It, therefore, presents a very attractive way to differentiate your brand from competitors. With key dates such as Black Friday and Christmas coming up, B2C companies especially may find that, while their competition is locked in battle on social media, they have free reign creating much more engaging thought leadership campaigns. 

Of course, everything I’ve said about the effectiveness of paid media is predicated on a company approaching it in a modern way. Campaigns must be accessible, engaging and relevant. Simply spouting marketing slogans will be ineffective. The best campaigns will grow and develop in line with the evolution of the issues they discuss. As such, they need to be well thought out, not opportunistic or cynical. The more a company can use technology to automate the logistics of a campaign the more time can be committed to thinking creatively about the content. As with any marketing output, the results must be closely analyzed and refinements made to ensure the right media publications are being used and the content is as impactful as possible. 

If you fully commit to running a paid media campaign that will genuinely help or enlighten your audience, you will find that your business will very quickly reap the benefits. Ultimately, paid media may become your most effective brand ambassador.  

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