So, there seems to be a theme of me telling people they are wrong in this blog (see here and here and an angry rant). So maybe it is just the nature of an opinion-based blog to do this, but Conductor, the really great SEO tool company, has got it all wrong with their “Break The Addiction to Paid Media” campaign (Hey, guys, you are welcome for the link, BTW.)
Conductor has a new spin on SEO, suggesting that it is no longer about search rankings or keywords, but rather it is “Web Presence Optimization”, using advanced SEO techniques to expose content that appeals to specific “personas” and that will allow consumers to engage better with your content. Apparently Conductor, unknowingly, has been trapped in the world of 1999 SEO where organic search presence was full of doorway pages, skinny content pages and poor results. Web presence optimization, in Conductor’s parlance, is this new approach of creating great content to appeal to different segments of your potential customer base at different points along the purchase or engagement funnel. That sounds AWESOME.
But, hey, isn’t that called marketing?
Marketing is the act of trying to influence a targeted group of people to do what you want. In order to do that, you create compelling content, and gain visibility for it. Conductor is making a strong separation between the value of earned media (i.e., SEO and Social) vs paid media (paid search, social advertising, etc.). They say that paid media is “rented presence” whereas Conductor shaped content is “earned presence”. This is like saying junk mail sent via First Class is somehow more worthy that that sent by bulk rate. Is there a real difference between paying for advertising and creating content that is algorithmically-favored by Google or Facebook? It just changes who you pay, right? SEO, Social, Paid Search – it is ALL advertising! Native ads, advertorials, links, testimonials, retargeting, pop-ups, pop-unders – it is ALL advertising. (By the way, this blog post is a form of advertising, too. I want you to think that I know what the hell I am talking about so that you will hire my company Adchemix, or ask me to speak at a conference, or simply gratify my ego by asking my advice.)
This blog post is an example of earned media. I have earned any visibility that I get from it because I spent the time to think, write, and hit the publish button. Conductor earned the right to their visibility by coming up with the catchy approach. But then they reinforce their right to visibility with PAID ADVERTISING. OMG.
So, there is no real difference between paid and earned media. It is all media. It is all marketing, and Conductor is trying to influence you to buy their product – that helps you create and promote algorithmically favored content. C’mon guys, you can’t BS a BS’er. Get off your high horse. It’s all advertising, regardless of how you spin it..