Owned media and paid media are merging — enter “rented” media.
What was once taken for granted as free access and unfettered distribution to brands’ audiences is now increasingly being charged for. For all the discussion of martech and ad tech colliding, what’s been overlooked is that these technologies are simply following the media they power. Social, email, and now even web presence channels are increasingly not pure free media, but the media equivalent of freemium heading to premium only.
Case #1: Social
When Facebook and Twitter first exploded onto the digital media scene, brands couldn’t get enough of it. These platforms encouraged brands to build out their pages, acquire followers and invest in regular publishing on social. The tech companies promised brands a way to engage with their audiences and told investors not to fret monetizing because the key was building a vibrant community first.
After significant investment by the brands, and huge growth by the platforms, we now live in a world where brands can organically reach only a small percentage of all those audiences they built, and they have to pay to actually reach the most and get noticed.
What was supposed to be a replacement to email for communicating more engagingly with audiences has become a much more expensive, but now necessary, way to do it. The marketing tech that supported social marketing has now evolved to support social advertising. Owned social media has become paid social media.
Case #2: Email
Email, a cornerstone of digital marketing, has for the longest time remained solely the province of marketing technology. Two developments have pushed the channel into advertising.
First, web email providers like Google have introduced paid email delivery where brands can now bid to place their emails at the top of the inbox, especially now that promotional emails may be hidden behind tabs that users don’t bother to check regularly. So brands now once again have to pay to reach the same consumer or pay to reach new consumers in a channel previously free.
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