Ubiquity Lab

Part 1: Binet and Field reaffirm that paid, owned and earned media isn’t ‘either-or’

Research shows you’re committing a cardinal sin if you focus marketing primarily on one channel rather than the entire mix. Learn how owned and earned boost paid effectiveness.

Thanks to ‘that’ virus, it’s been a shitty old time for most marketers amid declining sales and reduced budgets.


Perhaps the only silver lining of the marketing malaise is that it’s spawned a voracious discussion around whether we should be pumping resources and dollars into short-term sales or long-term brand advertising.


Front and centre in pretty much all of these conversations is the work of the ‘godfather’s of effectiveness’, Les Binet and Peter Field.


Like many, I’m an unabashed fan of these marketing luminaries and their groundbreaking book The Long and the Short of It.


But I find it intriguing that the bulk of industry commentary about their work centres on paid advertising, principally TV.

Now I get it’s an advertising study. However, the contrarian in me would say that it’s a cardinal marketing sin to focus primarily on one channel rather than the entire integrated marketing communications mix, which is the focus of Binet and Field’s work when you dig beneath the surface.

But I’ll keep that thought bubble to myself.

Binet and Field’s paid, owned and earned media guide for B2C/B brands

Do yourself a favour and read the Marketing effectiveness in the digital era tome the dynamic duo produced for IPA Databank. Here are some of my favourite evidence-based findings:

See what I mean? It’s a marketing effectiveness thesis across a myriad of brand building channels, not just TV. But I digress. 

TV alone is not the panacea to brand building success

One of the paper’s key findings is that paid activity works much harder when it’s integrated with owned and earned media activity.


It makes the point that depending on your target audience, TV may not be the optimum paid mechanism:

“If you are selling swimming pools to wealthy people, or management consultancy to CEOs, TV advertising is unlikely to be the answer.”

It’s a bloody important point, and something we’ve been banging on about for some time.

One of our B2B clients has an extremely specific target audience, with literally about 400 ‘targets’ nationwide. Their secondary target audience pretty much works at institutional banks and management consultancies.

The qualitative and quantitative research we did showed that – unsurprisingly – this audience is generally not watching Dancing with the Stars, or similar high-reach media.

So, despite TV offering the greatest reach, a big-budget ATL campaign would be largely wasted because it’s not the best way to engage their target audience.

The Green Hat/AMI B2B Marketing Research Report 2020 reinforced that for many B2B marketers, TV is not the Holy Grail.

B2B Marketing Research Report shows where marketers plan to spend their activity with no surprise traditional media gets only 4%

It found that only 4% of respondents are planning to invest their marketing budget into traditional media – print, radio and TV – in the next 12 months.

In contrast, the research showed that owned media would secure the bulk of the marketing budget, with 48% planning to invest in content and 43% in websites and SEO.

These findings reaffirm a really interesting takeout from Binet and Field that’s too often missed.

Unequivocally, they say you must be investing in paid to extend your reach and brand, but they don’t prescribe TV as the sole answer.

For instance, sponsoring events, amplifying owned content or investing in YouTube pre-roll may be the best approach for your brand and target audience. It’s all about developing a well thought out integrated marketing and communications plan, that is actioned effectively across your entire media ecosystem. 

Owned and earned media channels help smash effectiveness out of the park

Done well, owned talks to all stages of the funnel and contributes to short-term activations as well as building long-term brand equity. Ditto earned, to which it’s joined at the hip with brand advocay.

And while we’d all love to have a massive TV spend providing a halo effect for our marketing, owned and earned media still stand on their own two feet  – if not come into their own for B2B.

I’ll defer to Green Hat’s research again: 


“Best-in-class marketers… recognise the critical role of content in enabling their future customers to find them, rather than the other way around. For most B2B marketers, inbound marketing is the strategic imperative.”


Case in point, here are some hard numbers for people who engaged with a content hub we developed (versus non-visitors):

Owned and earned can smash it out of the park individually. But they’re even stronger when working in unison with paid activity.
Owned and earned media can smash it out of the park individually. But they’re even stronger when working in unison with paid activity to support building your brand.
  • Seventy-six per cent of people provided an NPS score of 9 to 10 (versus 28%).
  • Purchase consideration was 60% higher.
  • Prompted awareness of services was 55% higher.
  • There was a significantly reduced online acquisition cost when customers were ‘primed’ via emotional storytelling.

In unison, we developed a PR strategy based on the content marketing territories we wanted to ‘own’. The PR outreach generated the highest share of positive media coverage within the category, and we secured a mountain of back-links to the content hub and even used it to launch media releases.

Of equal importance is the fact we optimised the corporate affairs activity for search, and trained the media team on keyword optimisation. And pretty quickly, the newsroom started to rank organically for branded and non-branded terms, and we experienced a massive uptick in journalists contacting us for positive consumer PR opportunities.


While these are fantastic results, I’m the first to acknowledge how much better they’d be if – to Binet and Field’s point – we’d been able to increase paid media budget to drive even more people to these assets, and to engage them across multiple channels.

Because that’s the beauty of integrated owned and earned media. They are the lynchpin of your marketing activity, extending the impact of paid media and enabling you to change the conversation – both depth and message – you have with your audience. 

Owned and earned media can, and should, be ‘always on’, enabling you to reach more people within your target market, priming for sales and ultimately being a sales and profit multiplier.


And at the same time, they can be leveraged as part of your short-term sales activations, too.


In the second part of this article, we will deep-dive on Binet and Field truth bombs that show integrating your marketing and communications mix boosts effectiveness significantly. And we’ll explain exactly how to do it.

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