Advertising is usually delivered in what we call “paid media” - which would include TV, Radio, Print, Direct Mail, Outdoor, Internet etc. It’s usually your company talking about yourself.

There is also what we’ve come to know as “unpaid media” which is usually described as Public Relations- where  your press release, guerrilla stunt, amazing feat, etc. is actually newsworthy- and you appear in the media- usually print, radio, TV or Internet. This could be defined as others talking about you.

Then we have the new media form, and by that, I don’t mean web, Internet, etc. and it’s new name “earned media”- this is where something is so interesting that it gets circulated and watched out of fascination. It is the basic building block of a viral campaign. It is becoming the most valued form of advertising- but there is no price tag on it. You can’t just pony up money and get the eyeballs. Earned media is the result of the new currency in advertising (which really has always been the true currency) creativity. Creative solutions, creative executions, interesting, funny, informative and unexpected messages can take your brand message places that conventional (paid and unpaid media) can’t and won’t.

This creates a huge problem in advertising agency compensation - are you as a client, willing to pay for the value of a good idea? Or are you still basing your compensation plan on the size of your media buy or on hours worked? If you want to earn eyeballs instead of pay for them, the first thing you need to eyeball is what you are trying to buy from your ad agency.

And then decide what kind of media is going to get you what you want.