Paid vs. Owned Media

The Impact of Owned Media vs. Paid Media on Brand Sales

The Setup

Across 2015 and 2016, the Medill 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?

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 Medill 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.

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