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Everything You Need To Know About Earned Media, Paid Media and Owned Media

Here we explore how brands can leverage earned, paid and owned media in a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Here we explore how brands can leverage earned, paid and owned media in a comprehensive marketing strategy.


In marketing circles, earned media, paid media and owned media are phrases commonly thrown around in strategy meetings, yet the combined value of the trio is often misunderstood. Marketers will push and pull in different directions, pivoting their position on each as they search for the ultimate roadmap, however the key to success is a combination of earned media, paid media and owned media in your marketing strategy.


Here, we explore what earned, paid and owned media is, and how to leverage all three in a comprehensive marketing strategy to get traction, generate high-quality leads and ultimately increase sales. 

Earned Media

Earned media is every piece of content about your brand that is on a third-party platform without monetary incentive. Put simply, it's media that was not paid for. Instead, earned media is made up of word of mouth, public relations activities and viral marketing, as well as organic blog mentions, newspaper features and coverage that has developed from a media release. Earned media is also made up of customer reviews on sites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp, public endorsements on social media and referrals.


With the rise of social media marketing and the influencer phenomenon, influencer marketing also falls into the earned media category if it is unpaid and with no paid incentive. Media produced by influencers is extremely valuable for businesses, so jump over here to find out more.  


So, what’s the benefit of earned media? Earned media is the holy grail when it comes to marketing, as many consumers (and especially Millennials) look to their digital peers and social media platforms when making purchasing decisions. Earned media is trusted significantly more than paid media because it represents instant authority, trust and industry leadership, because it is not bought or solicited. There’s no bias in earned media because there’s no incentive to produce it, so you can guarantee it’s from a genuine point of view. To start earning media coverage, worship your customers, add value to the community and be open to engagement on multiple platforms.

Paid Media 

Paid media is quite self-explanatory – it involves any media coverage that you have paid for, whether it be promotional or part of your marketing and advertising efforts. There are many forms of paid media, including display ads, Outbrain campaigns, Facebook ads, sponsored blog posts, print advertising, television commercials, celebrity ambassadorships and influencer marketing. While there are opportunities for brands large and small, it’s the big marketing budgets that normally reign supreme.


Targeting a paid media strategy is great for brand awareness among strangers (potential new customers), who otherwise will not be exposed to your brands owned and earned media. Paid media puts eyeballs in front of your content, and generally, the more you pay, the more eyeballs you get. To ensure the ROI of your paid media, take advantage of every opportunity and push those eyeballs through the sales funnel with a strong call to action and strategic execution.


Need help with paid media and tracking your ROI? Let's chat:

Owned Media  

Finally, owned media is branded content that you own and produce, such as your corporate website, social media channels, webinars, infographics, mobile apps, white papers and any other content marketing assets in your arsenal. Owned media is a great place to start for new businesses because you can start producing it today, there are limited costs involved and you can start distributing from the get-go. The other great thing about owned media is that you have complete control over it, and therefore, you can pivot and adapt your approach at any time, based on the real-time feedback and reporting that comes through.


As owned media generally targets the customers you already have, you need to have a strong content marketing and social media strategy to ensure your content reaches the right people. Once you’ve developed some valuable content, consider pushing it out through a paid distribution platform and combine owned media with paid media in an effort to earn media.

What's Next?

Now that you know what earned media, paid media and owned media is, it’s time to put it all into practice and combine elements of the three circles to build a comprehensive, multi-layered marketing strategy that increases brand awareness and exposure, while also converting leads and generating sales. 



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