Scaling Your PR: Blending Earned with Guaranteed Media

It should come as no surprise that Earned PR placements proved to be an extremely effective way for brands and organizations to convey their messages to audiences. Instead, the key insight from this study is that a Guaranteed version of PR content performed equally well across various brand metrics as Earned PR.

Additionally, in every instance, the combination of the Earned and Paid formats out-performed traditional brand advertising, especially when targeted to an audience in-market to make a purchase.

Synaptic Digital and WPP’s Kantar Video executed this double-blind attitudinal study to understand the effectiveness of packaging brand messages in the form of newsworthy Earned media & Paid narrative marketing relative to Brand advertising formats. Additionally, we evaluated the impact of integrated communications strategies that included combinations of the three message formats.

The combination of Paid narrative marketing segments and Earned exposures generated the greatest brand scores overall. Used in concert, they can deliver significantly more impact than a Brand messaging strategy alone.

The research employed a six-cell experimental design that randomized the 1,800+ demographically-diverse respondents by exposing each to various combinations of formats featuring a specific message from a major American automotive brand. The survey recorded double-blind responses from consumers in order to measure the effectiveness of various creative formats against widely-accepted brand metrics including: unaided brand awareness, brand favorability, and persuasion.

Findings in this research are instructional in our understanding of message delivery, targeting, timing and sequence as it is apparent that the use of newsworthy content vehicles, both earned and paid, can have distinct areas of optimal impact; while remaining quite effective in aggregate.

Key Findings

Opportunities for Brands

  • The combination of Synaptic Digital’s Paid narrative marketing segments and Earned exposures generated the greatest brand scores overall. Used in concert, they can deliver significantly more impact than a Brand messaging strategy alone
  • Messages packaged in newsworthy formats, whether delivered as Earned or Paid, generated strong brand perceptions, message building and awareness
  • Among the target, both the Earned and the Paid performed very well on their own, with Earned significantly increasing awareness metrics and Paid increasing persuasion metrics
  • Paid narrative marketing performed particularly well with a self-selected in-market audience by providing valuable facts required for informed decision making
  • A dramatic gender difference exists with automobile intenders. Women are able to piece together messages delivered via brand advertising and newsworthy formats creating a unified message that scores significantly higher on brand metrics than that of any single format, while men are influenced by earned PR and little else
  • The optimal sequence of exposure was “Paid > Brand > Earned”, generating, on average a 28 point delta
  • When combined in an integrated strategy, Paid narrative marketing can extend the effective reach of Earned PR while providing brands predictability and targeting that Earned cannot
  • The study’s largest delta over the control group belonged to Paid narrative marketing and consumers with purchase intent. The use of “newsy” formats deliver brand messages in a useful form that is conducive to fact finding and effectively pushes in-market consumers further through the purchase funnel. With the onset of behavioral targeting online, in-market audience are readily targetable.
  • Due to the nature of the format, Paid narrative marketing can be more economically produced than traditional brand advertising, thus providing significantly higher ROI.