What is Paid, Owned and Earned Media?

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When it comes to understanding marketing language, some terms are “nice to know” and some are “must know”. The terms paid, owned and earned media fall into the second category. They’re vital components of marketing strategies. They help make your options clear.

In this article, we’ll help you understand exactly what paid, owned and earned media are, the difference between them, and how they affect each other. 

That way you’ll be able to assess your current marketing materials and assets – and where the opportunities are for marketing your business in the future! Make sure you measure all your marketing efforts so you can easily tell which types of media are performing best for you, and where there’s room for improvement.

Paid Media

Paid media incorporates any marketing that you can’t execute for free. This can include traditional advertising – think print, radio and TV ads, or billboards. Online, it includes ads on social media, ads on search engine results pages, and display ads on websites. 

Paid media: Due to its advanced targeting options, paid marketing content is a great way to reach your desired target audience in digital marketing. There are a lot of advantages to incorporating paid media into your marketing strategy, though whether you use paid search or paid social (or both) is up to you. 

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Owned Media

Owned media refers to marketing content you own – content you can publish for free. It includes content you publish on your website and blog posts and your social media channels (not including your social ads). It also includes email marketing. 

Generally speaking, owned marketing content is free and you can fully control who sees it. That makes it a powerful tool in your content strategy. You have to put budget behind paid, and you can’t control earned, but you can always create content with the hope of reaching your audience the organic way. That’s content marketing in a nutshell.

Earned Media

Earned media isn’t a term you hear too often, but it’s important: it involves any content where other people are talking about you. This includes influencers, PR, reviews of your product or business, or simply fans and advocates who share your content on their own or through social sharing tools. 

It’s also called word of mouth marketing or free media. The best part about an earned media strategy is that it helps build trust in your business and your products or services. It helps potential customers see that you’re legitimate, and that your products are enjoyable. 

PS: 92% of people trust recommendations from friends and family over other types of media marketing or advertising. Word of mouth works!

What is the difference between paid, owned and earned media?

Paid media is content you pay to place in front of an audience as an ad or sponsorship, while owned and earned are free. Owned media is content you create and control, like your Facebook page or your website, while earned media is content others create about you, like reviews or Instagram posts. 

Understandably there are often questions about what kind of media a particular part of marketing is. Sometimes it’s not that clear because things like social media have multiple options for marketers! Let’s clarify a few common confusions:

Is PR paid, owned or earned? 

PR (public relations) is earned media. You can pay for PR services or engage with the public yourself; content like your press releases are owned media. But when people talk about your press releases, products and services, quotes, brand, business or company, that’s earned media. 

Are influencers paid, owned or earned?

Influencers can be all three. An ‘owned media’ influencer is a thought leader within the business talking about the business. An ‘earned media’ influencer is a fan who is really passionate about your brand. A ‘paid media’ influencer is the traditional kind – sponsored by the brand to collaborate with, or talk about, the brand.

Is SEO paid, owned or earned?

SEO (search engine optimization) is owned media. Strictly speaking it’s a process you carry out on marketing content you own – your website. It involves a lot of free techniques and optimizations you can carry out in order to help your website rank better on search results pages.

Is social media earned or owned?

“Social media” can be paid, owned and earned media. Typically speaking, your social posts are owned marketing content; you create them and publish them for free. You can also create social ads; that’s paid media. Finally, your fans and customers can talk about you on social – which is earned media!

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Why you need to use paid, owned AND earned media

People respond best to multi-platform marketing campaigns. Why? 

For one, our attention spans are often short. We don’t spend a lot of time on one piece of content or one platform. 

But if we see the same thing referenced on multiple platforms, across multiple posts and ads, we’re more likely to remember it. If we see our friends and people we respect talking about it, we’ll be more likely to get interested. See? That’s paid, owned, and earned, right there. 

To be honest, our lives are built around many different digital platforms. Very few people spend all their time in one place on the internet. We’re getting quicker at adopting new ones too. 

Think about when you’re looking to book a restaurant: you might check Google Maps for restaurants nearby, Yelp or Facebook for reviews and menus, Instagram for pictures of the food, and so on. A good business is present everywhere a customer might look for them, making use of paid, owned and earned media opportunities.

Tap into our Digital Marketing Platform

To learn more about how to make paid, owned and earned media work for your digital business, book a group introduction to Digivizer session with our marketing experts. If you’re already up and running, you can track your social media, search and website performance all in one place with Digivizer. Sign up for free.

“It isn’t always easy to keep track of your paid, owned and earned performance. Marketers are often faced with the challenge of having to manually extract performance data from individual platforms. This isn’t always a straight-forward process and can take hours as a result!

Thankfully, there’s a much easier solution. 

When you connect all your accounts into the Digivizer platform, you have instant access to performance insights across all your marketing channels.

At a glance, you can see how all your campaigns perform and compare against each other. This is the insight you need to execute digital marketing campaigns that deliver higher returns. Sign up for free to track your paid, owned and earned performance the easy way.

Whether you leverage our real-time insights platform on its own, or add our leading agency services, you’re empowered to choose your own path to success. Be powered by the Digivizer Advantage.

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Whether you leverage our real-time insights platform on its own, or add our leading agency services, you’re empowered to choose your own path to success.

Be powered by the Digivizer Advantage.