Two Newly-Emerging Dirty Words: “Paid Media.”


A recent blog by Catalyst:SF planner Cory Treffiletti on onlineSPIN (you may have to join Media Post) raised some interesting points regarding a little-discussed aspect of the digital revolution; the proliferation of platforms offering free –or very low cost — engagement opportunities.  He challenges: “why do advertisers assume spending money is the best way to sell?”  It’s a timely and provocative thought.

 As one can always safely expect from a new media blog, he stretches the point a bit to cudgel traditional agencies (no Cory, agencies are not compensated to spend money: commissions have been gone for well over a decade), but still his rejection of solutions that assume spending money is extremely smart.  Denying that assumption forces innovation, including something he calls ‘engage and activate.’

Like most things touted as a new paradigm only made possible through digital platforms, the notion of finding solutions without big media investments actually way predates the web…and TV for that matter.  The smartest marketers have worked this way since the beginning of time.

Talk value didn’t start with DDB’s first Superbowl ad for Bud Light; PT Barnum built a fortune on it by the mid-nineteenth century.  Conversational media began long before MySpace; the Friedman sisters traded in it since the 50’s by printing reader responses as part of their syndicated columns.  And what were those Bobby Sherman 45’s stamped into the sides of Honey Comb cereal boxes but early, analogue apps?

The only difference today is the speed and depth of the interactive reach: opportunity has always been—and always will be–available to clients and marketers who view the established way of doing things as merely comfortable habit and challenge themselves to think in new ways.  As the economic crunch hammers our industry, that better mean all of us.

After all, convergence isn’t an event; it’s a mindset.

By Dennis Ryan, CCO, Element 79

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