The Earned Space Conundrum

Last week I attended the annual Integrated Marketing Conference in Cape Town, the conference brings together 200 people from leading advertising, digital, PR agencies as well as marketing directors from many corporates for two days of presentations and workshops.

The calibre of the discussion was world class, the open frank manner in which the presentations were conducted was encouraging.

This year was my second IMC Conference and I noted a distinct move towards total ownership of a client’s marketing activity from all agencies. The move towards one agency being the preferred agency to advise and implement the client’s paid, owned and now earned media (definition at the end) is very apparent.

I found it interesting listening to large advertising agencies talking confidently (or trying to at least) about the earned space.  I think this unknown arena must terrify traditional above the line agencies, in a world where they have dealt with certainty, the earned space must be scary.

As the marketing mix evolves, and digital finds it’s own space alongside the traditional, I would rather be on the PR side of the fence.  PR agencies have dealt with the unknown for decades we now need to better integrate our conversations with the paid and owned space and the marketing shift could be monumental.

Our industry is an exciting place to be.


By definition;

Paid – traditional advertising, anything paid for.

Owned – media where the client has complete control; website, company blog etc.

Earned – the uncontrolled space, publicity, social media conversation.