The Converged Media Imperative

The Convergence of Paid, Owned & Earned Media

Yesterday afternoon, the Altimeter Group released a report called “The Converged Media Imperative: How Brands Must Combine Paid, Owned and Earned Media.” Authors Rebecca Lieb and Jeremiah Owyang discuss the increasingly blended media environment of traditional, online and advertising media. In total, consumers face 3000 daily brand impressions.

The report makes a strong call for integration across digital, traditional and earned media, saying that brands that do not integrate are at a disadvantage.

“Marketers who fail to reconcile paid, owned and earned media today will be at a distinct disadvantage,” state Lieb and Owyang.

Overall, Altimeter’s Converged Media Imperative is very good. The message matches the emerging experiential brand movement that transcends individual disciplines, and requires a new focus on integrated marketing (as discussed by Gini Dietrich and I in Marketing in the Round).

The Converged Media Lab and Workflow

The content and integration processes suggested in the report add some new context.

Converged Media Lab: Top Success Criteria

As you can see the converged media lab has strategy and planning first, followed by alignment (and assumed silo smashing) inside, marketing production and measurement. All of these components are correct, and as such make for a traditional linear marketing process.

One could debate that marketing strategy in a social business would result from a more aligned marketing team. In essence, it creates a fly wheel where integration would flow easier. However, corporate strategy should drive marketing implementation.

While analysis and measurement components are shown as the final step in the Lab, you can see that Altimeter recommends using measurement throughout the life of the marketing process.

Converged Media Workflow

I am a huge believer in developing KPIs and goals before a campaign is deployed so that they can serve as diagnostics. Measuring performance after the fact is not enough. Campaigns should live, breath and change as the market reacts to them.

Both processes focus heavily on content creation. Arguably this is an easy tie across disciplines; direct, online, and paid media. There is more to marketing though, which leads to…


Two weaknesses in the report are as follows:

1) The results in the case studies have the usual social media heavy attention metrics, and lack hard ROI numbers. This gets back to KPIs and SMART goals, but in the end marketing, PR and social goals must support the bottom line and at least one case study should show fiscal results.

2) I totally agree that converged and blurred media experiences are the future of brands. Instead of a top heavy focus towards social media and content creation, there could be more context about how they work with traditional media and tools.

For example, old school polling isn’t going away and neither are focus groups. Both are good research tools in addition to social listening. While blog and social content represents a critical component of the online marketing love triangle (rounded out by search and social), media relations, events and speaking engagements still help brands from a PR perspective.

Also when you tie in the old, a la direct marketing, you address some of the ROI issues. It’s hard to drive ROI out of social, but not the other disciplines. In the context of preaching the holistic experience, if all the media are symbiotic in ties, then corporate KPIs and measured goals should reflect that.


Overall, I strongly recommend that you read the Converged Media Imperative.

The report hits the nail on the head as far as the media environment’s current direction. It’s views are in line with Marketing in the Round, and the report provides a worthwhile discussion on integrated holistic marketing experiences.

What do you think of the Converged Media Imperative?


  • Geoff,

    You are right – I think the metrics are a little weak and reflect the common circularity problem – i.e. we are using social media in order to get more social media followers.

    As to the context about how social works with traditional – the answer, in my opinion, lies in divergence.  It is marketers, not consumers, who are struggling to work out how to converge media.  The imperative is to understand divergent media, not to try and converge media in order to make it something we can understand.

    •  It’s funny, the metrics are one of the first things I check now!!!

      I’m not so sure on divergent. I mean I wouldn’t make the direct marketer run my social media page, but I do think they need to be considered in the larger user experience context. But I’m open to this idea. I promise to check out your blog post!

  • THANK YOU for talking about the weaknesses of this. One of the questions (as you know) people keep asking us is how to measure earned media, in the form of traditional media relations. Companies are still stuck on news releases as the only form of public relations and it’s mightily difficult to measure that. Content is even difficult to measure, unless you’re extremely smart about how you deliver it and what you expect people to do. Without integration with the other marketing disciplines, it becomes more about engagement and amplification and less about return-on-investment. You need both, but you can’t do both with one tactic alone.

    •  I had a feeling you would like, pen pal!  Thanks for teaching me some of it, too, like SMARTER goals.

      There was some cool stuff in the report that I may reuse. It has its strengths, too.

  • This is great, and I love how this internal convergence pretty neatly mirrors some of the media convergence theory that was being talked about as far back as the 90s with the work of Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Media Lab. It’s fun to see the fruition of some of this stuff. 

    And I particularly love your second point under the weaknesses re: the converged & blurred media experiences. I’m researching a piece right now on that for the Paley Center for Media, and it’s pretty fascinating.

    •  Negroponte was the man, Being Digital was the bible when I was studying digital media at Georgetown in the 90s.  I think we forget that whole information superhighway conversation foresaw much of our conversations.

      I can’t wait to see your research, please share in advance so I can help you get the word out!  Cheers!

  • Oh, and check out the new study released today by Pew Internet and American Life study on Big Data. There was a “Geoff Livingstone” mentioned in there, was curious if it was you and they got your name wrong, or someone else.

  • “Blurred media.”  That’s a phrase I can hang raincoat on.  This has been coming for a while — from Who’s Who to paid placements in movies. M&Ms really missed out on E.T. The athletic world, as you surely know, does this very effectively. 

    It’s rendered in other forms too.  Traffic is top of my mind today.  Is traffic, from controversial or perhaps, unethical, contributors a form of payment in exchange for coverage?  Blurred I think is a positive phrase; but that quickly blurs into shades of dark gray. 

    Meh.  Ethics.  That doesn’t get traffic. 

    As for metrics, I really struggle with the likes and fans.  On principle, I agree with that; always focused on the end goal. Refferals.  Conversions.  Sales.  Yet, on the other hand, I’m convinced that growing that audi…, no community, organically, not with stunts, but with relevance and context, is the path to scale. 

    •  I hear you. You did need a strong community so you can do something that produces measurement. I just see that as a KPI, though.  Any campaign that doesn’t leverage measurement to test  strength and loyalty through some sort of call to action strikes me as errant.  How can you tell that Facebook page is worthwhile…

  • I dig this. A little bit above my pay grade and more detailed than I’m prepared to utilize, but a large part of this resonates with me. 

    Why do so many marketers still adhere to the lowest common denominator? Probably the same reason why “new media” folks still pursue the old, build-an-audience-and-monetize-with-ads business plan. It’s no longer working for print, people are shifting to ad-free radio and TV – so why do so many stick with the press release and paid content?

    Could it be that each wave of new media outlets increases potential for amplification at ever-decreasing prices? I often wonder how long the shilling that passes for journalism these days will last once computers get really good about converting press releases to “news,” driving ad revenues to nil.

    This is a seriously comprehensive report. I enjoyed the clarification on paid vs. owned vs. earned vs. converged. To me, it seems there’s a real need to shift all of the above to be more legitimately educational if it’s to be at all effective. 

    Nobody likes ads. Nobody likes commercials. Yet so much of our world is made possible by advertising. Instead of trying to come up with increasingly better mousetraps to trick people into buying more stuff, really put the IP to work to make a measurable difference in people’s lives. 

    In my tiny corner of the web, we’re trying to blend the paid and earned, offering more a consultive service offering to partners. We don’t do banner ads. And we only do the “sponsored article” after we’ve worked with our partners to create something truly unique that genuinely entertains, enlightens, educates, and/or (this is my favorite) empowers the customer. 

    Thanks for sharing, Geoff. Really enjoyed this.

  • Altimeter Report: Paid + Owned + Earned = Converged Media - |

    […] Geoff Livingston gives a thoughtful review and offers an honest critique […]

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    […] The Converged Media Imperative This is a seriously comprehensive report. I enjoyed the clarification on paid vs. owned vs. earned vs. converged. To me, it seems there’s a real need to shift all of the above to be more legitimately educational if it’s to be at all effective. […]

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