Understanding Converged Media

28 June 2013
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If I could look back at how Facebook appeared when I first joined in 2005, I know I’d be shocked. The site was only open to college students, there was no newsfeed, and there were definitely no ads. But while Facebook has certainly managed to drag each of us on their journey, albeit with some kicking and screaming along the way, to becoming the behemoth that it is today, the massive difference between then and now is indicative of the truly fluid nature of online media in general.


Most online marketers are almost assuredly familiar with the concept of the three types of marketing media, both as applied to the interactive side of things and to traditional marketing tactics. As a refresher, let’s list them out briefly, since this background will come in handy a bit later:

  • Paid Media: Traditional advertisements that are paid for like TV commercials or banner ads
  • Owned Media: Corporate controlled channels where content is vetted and approved, like a company website, blog, or YouTube channel
  • Earned Media: Attention from the press or consumers that has not been sponsored, including word of mouth promotion, or consumer reviews

Each of these types of media has its own place in the marketing landscape and indeed most successfully marketed companies today are using an integrated approach that puts budgets towards each type. However, there is an even newer concept emerging, and it is one that you will certainly want to keep in mind the next time you’re adjusting your marketing strategy: Converged Media.

Though the term might sound a bit scary at first, it’s really a natural extension of the three types of media. Converged media is the place where two, or even all three, of the main types of media meet. And our friend Facebook is the perfect example of this.

Think about it. Your company has a Facebook page (or should!) where you can post content. Owned media. But your fans can also comment directly on that content, or on your brand in general using the Facebook platform. Earned media. And if you’re really going for it with your social strategy, you can pay for promoted content or ads on Facebook, too. Paid media. Owned+Earned+Paid=Converged Media.

The fact that these types of media have begun to melt into one another and overlap in this way should come as no surprise. As more platforms emerge, consumers have steadily begun to interact with marketing messages in a much wider variety of ways, and different media offerings have changed in reaction. No longer to people sit idly watching commercials and scanning banner ads. Instead, they are on their computers or phones at the same time that they are watching TV or talking to friends. They have already converged media in their interactions, now marketers have to be able to speak to that.

The exact strategies that can help you to leverage converged media as part of your marketing plan are for another post. For now, you need to understand that converged media exists and should be under consideration when you are planning any marketing strategy.

About Gillian Singletary

Gillian is a Copywriter and Social Media Professional based out of Los Angeles.

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