The Impact of Owned Media vs.
Paid Media on Brand Sales
Watch The VideoInteract With The Data

The Setup

Across 2015 and 2016, The Spiegel Research Center at Northwestern, working with Publicis Media, developed research revealing some fascinating insights into the impact of brands deploying owned brand platforms – that is brand strategies that span their own websites, both on desktop and mobile, and brand social sites across FB, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. We wanted to examine how Prof. John Philip Jones’ famous 1990 work showing how brands with larger shares of market consistently reduced their share of paid media ad spend below their share of market. Conversely smaller brands raised their share
of ad spend above their share of voice.

How, we wondered, did share of market correspond to share of owned media traffic?  Did the same rules apply in the presence of owned media strategies?

Let's Look at the Data

Our study analyzed over eight hundred brands across a five year period using proprietary data sources. We found that as brands grow their market share they grow their share of owned media traffic at the same rate, not at a decreasing rate. This deviates from the Jones study that showed the opposite to be true of paid media. Below is an interactive representation of this finding, plotting the Premium Earned in Millions and Average Total Unique Visitors Monthly of brands across four industries. Across these and almost all the other industries our findings held true, though the dynamics vary across categories
and industries.

Tool: Exploring Paid vs. Owned Media and ROI

The charts below measure the relationship between Paid and Owned media metrics and sales across six representative categories. How does your company compare?

1)    For each chart below, click on the legend on the right to select or de-select the categories

2)    You can display all the categories at once or one at a time

3)    Hovering over a specific data point will display more detailed information about that individual company

Owned Media

Paid Media

The Presentation

The presentation focuses on the impact of this study as it pertains to growing and declining brands. By segmenting brands by their sales growth success across the 5 year study period, the study reveals interesting and consistent differences in how these brands approach media spending. Brands that had shown high positive sales growth of the 5 year period had grown their share of owned media traffic significantly more than their share of paid media adspend, whereas brands that had shown no growth or negative growth in sales over the period had grown their share of adspend more than their share of owned traffic. This pattern was found to be consistent across all categories, whether a part of the ecommerce ecosystem or not.

The findings of this study were presented at the 2017 Advertising Research Foundation conference.


Primary research at Spiegel Research Center was led by Professor Martin Block, and research assistant Yingying Chen. Publicis Media support and counsel led by Publicis Media Global Lead and former Chief Data Scientist Rob Jayson.