How Brands Can Thrive In A Post-Paid Media World

The brands that will win are the ones that focus on the building blocks of success in the post-paid media world—data, analytics, personalized content, and comprehensive owned/earned channel strategies.

How Brands Can Thrive In A Post-Paid Media World

It’s no secret that—at least on the Web—we’re moving to a post-paid media world.

Consumers have lost patience with one-way brand messages, irrelevant ads, and content that doesn’t align with their needs. Aided by iOS9 content blockers, digital ad resistance has hit critical mass, with 37% of mobile users blocking ads, according to the Global Web Index, 2016. And no matter the industry’s defense, ad blocking isn’t going away. To illustrate, 42% of consumers aren’t yet blocking ads, but have expressed interest in doing so, index results say. Millennials overindex in ad blocking, and mobile users have become more sensitive to data usage since more than half of all mobile data comes from ads, according to The New York Times.

The bottom line is that, unlike with TV, Web users are less willing to engage in the time-tested advertising value exchange: see ads, get content. This accelerated erosion of digital paid media effectiveness is giving way to a post-paid media world. To thrive in this future—and continue to win every day—brands must, one, shift focus from paid to owned/earned media strategies and, two, leverage data and analytics—particularly first-party data—to construct highly personalized and relevant experiences.

Owned/Earned Content First

In the post paid-media era, brands must adopt and capitalize on an “owned-and-earned-first mentality.” This means that they must prioritize their owned properties—websites, social pages—as their primary channels for consumer engagement. And they must “earn” ongoing engagement from their consumers. However, consumers suffering from ad fatigue are also wise to brand content—sponsored or otherwise—that lacks value. The key is authenticity.

To meet consumer expectations, brands must create authentic, engaging, and immersive experiences. This can range from helpful organic search results and digital content aligned to specific consumer needs to full-on virtual or augmented reality activations that enable people to experience the brand in a completely new way. In the post-media future, brands that lack this content cannot and will not engage consumers.

Data-Fueled Personalization

Furthermore, brands that don’t personalize content to moments will not capture demand as consumers move across the Web, blocking ads and ignoring impersonal messages. To create demand and convert demand, brands must balance art (experience) and science (data and analytics). Post-media age brands will employ art in the brand awareness stage, casting a wide net with entertaining owned/earned experiences. Then, once a consumer is aware, they’ll customize experiences based on how the consumer has already interacted with the brand—helping lead them down the purchase funnel.

Data and analytics are critical in this personalization phase. Moreover, the best personalization data is often the brand’s own (e.g. email lists, prior interactions, sales, CRM). To power personalization, all brands must invest heavily in this first-party data, including taking inventory of existing assets and working with technology and publisher partners to leverage the data. Brands must also continually build more first-party data via strategies like creating consumer rewards programs.

Brands that focus on the building blocks of success in the post-paid media world—data, analytics, personalized content, and comprehensive owned/earned channel strategies—will win, continuing to engage consumers in the right moments and give them what they need, no matter if they’re blind to traditional paid media.