Why are Owned Channels the next frontier in marketing effectiveness measurement? And what should we do to harness their brand building power? Owned Channels are a rich, unexplored territory offering enormous potential for future brand growth.
Without exception, every industry leader we spoke with for our report into Owned Channels published in partnership with IPA EffWorks expected the focus on these channels to grow. Now is the time to explore Owned Channels.
Let’s examine five emerging topics.
The gold rush of our day is first-party data. It’s driven by the demise of cookies and increasingly restrictive legislation. At the same time, technology is encouraging brands to go direct to consumers.
Consumer behaviour is changing, accelerated by COVID. For example, Owned Channels now represent 54% of all encounters people have with UK retail banks. People check out their banking apps far more frequently than they used to pop into their bank branches. Consumers are more in control. Kathy Kline, Chief Strategy & Innovation Officer, Mindshare North America, describes in the paper the control that modern, empowered consumers have on the choices they make to engage with brands. Kamran Durani, Senior Marketing Manager, Marketing Performance & Technology, The LEGO Group, identified how traditional paid advertising channels were less able to reach a younger demographic. If consumers are exploring new territory, brands need to be present in those spaces and places.
We are talking in different languages. There was general agreement that an Owned Channel was one that brands have control over. However, even here there is a watch out.
A brand can never control the customer’s experience with it. This is always cocreated. The customer might feel delighted with their first interaction with the brand website and frustrated in a subsequent one. It is these experiences, that can be positive in one context and negative in another, that we need to measure.
Qaiser Bachani, Global Head of Digital COE and Europe Consumer Experience Lead, Mondelēz International, used an analogy of real estate. When you create a film, this is your own asset (or house). If you distribute this on your website, you own the real estate. If you provide it to a TV channel, you are putting your house on their real estate.
The paper cites some fantastic examples of new Owned Channels, such as Diageos’s thebar.com, a place for people to visit for inspiration on what drinks to serve, recipe ideas and the opportunity to actually purchase. And there are case studies, such as the award-winning HSBC and Shelter partnership in creating a bank account for those without a home and the Volvo Street Configurator, harnessing the power of cars on the road. It also highlights the debate around what constitutes an Owned Channel. Many brand owners thought they owned their Facebook and Instagram sites, but Meta is the true owner.
Does Owned Channel definition matter? When we are producing creative solutions to address business outcomes, it doesn’t. However, it would help us to talk in the same language.
One useful question to answer is “how are people experiencing your brand?” If you draw a pie chart of every brand interaction, what percentage are for paid, owned and earned? Studying this can help identify unexplored opportunities. For the paper, we analysed three categories. The proportion of Owned Channels varied from 37% in one to 63% in another. What’s more, we found Owned Channels had a bigger impact on brand metrics than Paid. Owned are often more involved experiences which the person has proactively engaged in. Paid plays a vital role in attracting prospects.
We also unpicked the roles that different Owned Channels played. Banking apps positively impact on being seen as ‘reliable and hassle free’, whilst branches impact on ‘fair and friendly’ perceptions. One interesting finding involved the massive impact we uncovered of the purchase experience for beauty retail. This is a “moment of truth” that needs to be regarded, not simply as a “sale”, but as having the potential to build consideration for future sales.
We’ve never had so much data. But we uncovered data deserts. What about competitor Owned Channel metrics? And what about all those channels that are hard to define, from partners to influencers, consumption and retail? To fill the data deserts, survey data can provide invaluable information. We may need a benchmark study to understand the category landscape. Then we can use proxies. For example, if we know the impact that a bank branch experience has from a benchmark study, we can look at likely footfall for competitors.
Beyond return on investment, beyond impact on brand, we uncovered another measure through Andre D’Abreu, Head of Customer Intelligence, Research and Strategy, LATAM Airlines. The concept of Monetizing Loss of Attention comes from looking at, for example, the cost of sending out an email as being low. So, lots of emails are sent. Customers stop opening them. We’ve lost attention. And there is a big loss in value because we lose access to this customer. For each brand interaction, we should measure whether this will build future attention or erode it.
Keith Weed, ex-CMO of Unilever, talked about “total experience” in the Harvard Business Review and suggested that share of experience would become the most important marketing metric. Paul Davies, Founder and CEO, First Light Group talked about Return on Experience. Our analysis uncovered a new hierarchy of importance on metrics for Owned Channels versus Paid.
With paid advertising, it is important to firstly engage the person with a positive experience and attract their attention, then the message needs to be relevant, for the ad to be persuasive. With Owned Channels, the experience must firstly be relevant (if the person is interrupted with something irrelevant this will be offputting), then positive, to be persuasive.
We see a world beyond Owned, shared, earned, paid, to a time where these distinctions no longer matter. Embracing Owned now will lead us on this journey.
Please join us by downloading the paper and contacting us. We are identifying what to tackle next and would love to know your thoughts.
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