Audience Engagement Digital Publishing
5 mins read

The relatively untapped value of “Owned Channels”: IPA/MESH Experience report

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

There is a different hierarchy of needs for Owned Channels versus Paid. For Owned Channels, communication must first be relevant, then positive and then persuasive. Whereas for Paid, it should be positive first to capture attention, then relevant, then persuasive. Brands should focus on relevance first for Owned Channels.

This is just one of the significant findings outlined in a new guide by MESH Experience, commissioned by the IPA and delivered at the flagship cross-industry IPA EffWorks Global 2022 Conference today (Wednesday 12 October) that offers an introductory exploration into the relatively untapped position and value of Owned Channels.

The report, which draws on in-depth interviews conducted in 2022, challenges perceptions and validates hunches relating to the definition, role and measurement of Owned Channels. It also provides insightful lessons from real-life brands following bespoke analysis of MESH Experience’s own data and case studies.

As the opportunities for Owned Channels come of age we feel the time is now right to challenge existing conventions, join the dots between old and new ecosystems and attempt to develop a more structured approach to integrated marketing and measurement.

This publication is work in progress and we look forward to progressing the programme in the years ahead to the point where we can apply the same, or even greater rigour, to the planning, development and measurement of Owned Channels as we integrate them with earned and paid.

Janet Hull OBE, Director of Marketing Strategy, IPA

Defining Owned Channels is complex

One of the key perceptions challenged in the study is the ability to define what an Owned Channel is. What might be thought of as an Owned Channel, might, in fact, not be Owned by the brand – for example, the real estate for a brand’s Facebook page is Meta. What seems “Owned” to a brand, such as email, may feel like “paid advertising” to a customer. What seems like a transaction (sale), could in fact be a rich customer experience that builds future brand intention. What the study felt brands had control over, such as their website, is in fact illusory because it is the visitor’s experience with the website that is important, and the brand plays one small part in this.

Bringing this complexity to life, the study discovers new Owned brand homes and digital platforms, including It also shows how brand activations harnessed Owned Channels in new ways, like Volvo’s Street Configurator.

The measurement challenge is significant

“The gold rush of today is for first-party data”, highlights the report. But, as the study cautions, its hunch was correct: clicks and likes are vanity metrics that can lead the industry away from successful business outcomes. Instead the report advises a comprehensive measurement ecosystem, with a 12-point advisory including the need for brands “to identify their data deserts, such as competitor Owned Channels metrics.” As well as “to identify the proxies a brand can create to make data lakes” and to embrace new AI tools to bring richness to existing data sources.

Asserting that Owned Channels are the next frontier for marketing effectiveness measurement, it nods to the need to measure more than just the basics:

“We heard people looking at new concepts like monetizing the loss of attention and using new metrics, like share of experience. And we saw that it was possible to compare the impact of an email with a TV ad.”

Lessons from real-life brands – based on three MESH Experience studies:

  • Owned Channels across all three MESH Experience studies are shown to have a more significant impact on brand consideration than paid advertising, demonstrating the importance for brand owners and agencies to incorporate them into the media mix.. However, it is clear that Owned and Paid Channels have different roles to play. For example email impacts on trust in retail banking, while TV impacts more on brand consideration.
  • Historically the face-to-face experience in store was vital to the customer experience. However, from the studies there is evidence of the power of apps and websites to build brands. They appear to work in a different way to the face-to-face experience. Apps put people in control and make their lives easier. Face to face experiences make people feel cared for and people talk about the atmosphere. The advice is to use a range of different Owned Channels carefully to build brand perception.
  • The purchase experience itself is an extremely important moment that encourages future brand consideration. Marketers should remember that this is a moment of truth and brand building experience, not simply a “sale” or “transaction”.
  • There is a different hierarchy of needs for Owned Channels versus Paid. For Owned Channels communication must first be relevant and then positive and then persuasive. Whereas for paid it should be positive first, to capture attention, then relevant, then persuasive. Brands should focus on relevance first for Owned Channels.
  • There is a clear interaction of channels from a customer perspective and brands need to understand this omnichannel perspective. People seamlessly move from seeing information in the digital world to purchasing in the real world and vice versa.

For clients and agencies keen to identify where they stand on the maturity curve of how their Owned Channels are being harnessed to deliver value, the report lists five questions they can ask themselves. The report also sends out a call to arms to industry leaders to join it, as part of a three-year study exploring Owned Channels as the next frontier in marketing effectiveness measurement.

“We believe this first foray into the next frontier of Owned Channels has unearthed an expansive vista of fertile ground. We are seeing brands bravely exploring new territory and building brand homes, direct to consumer websites and massive CRM databases to last. These are big investments. Brands are on exploratory missions to discover value pools and to find the spaces and places they can rightfully occupy,” says report author and President and CEO, MESH Experience: Fiona Blades.

“The measurement challenge is huge. The infrastructure we need to build, from definitions, to data sources and analytic tools is vast. We have data lakes but need to face our data deserts and our metric mirages to build a robust understanding of this new world.

We need to acknowledge what we can control and factor in real-world context and understand that each experience is unique. Concepts and metrics, such as Monetizing Loss of Attention, Return on Experience and Experience Share need to be more fully explored and validated. I therefore hope more industry practitioners will join us in our mission to develop this further.”

Fiona Blades, President and CEO, MESH Experience

“This investigation can help fill a potential gap in Effworks Global learning to augment our extensive knowledge bank around Paid and Earned – at arguably an inflection point in our industry with the drive to d2c and first-party data and when customer and brand experience are now so intrinsically linked,” says Stephen Maher, Chair/CEO, MBAstack & Former Chair/Member, IPA Effectiveness Leadership Group, who has been leading the project.

The report, ‘Owned Channels The next frontier for marketing effectiveness measurement’ is free and available to download from the IPA website.