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What Is Earned Media, Owned Media & Paid Media? The Difference Explained.


Discover the Difference Between Earned Media, Owned Media & Paid Media in Marketing

If you’ve been privy to the digital world you may have heard these buzzwords tossed around, but what is the difference between ‘earned’, ‘owned’ and ‘paid’ media in marketing and what does it mean for your digital strategy?

earned media, owned media and paid media venn diagram by titan growth

Think of earned media, owned media and paid media like a tripod. Each element is an important part of the whole and all contribute to a complete digital marketing strategy. The illustration above outlines each element’s role and how they work together to form a cohesive marketing mix.

Earned, Owned and Paid Media Defined [Examples]

What is Earned Media?

Definition: Earned media is publicity or exposure gained from methods other than paid advertising.

If owned media sites are the destination then earned media is the vehicle that helps people get there. What good is a website or social media site if no one is seeing or interacting with it? That’s where earned media comes in. Earned media is essentially online word of mouth, usually seen in the form of ‘viral’ tendencies, mentions, shares, reposts, reviews, recommendations, or content picked up by 3rd party sites. One of the most effective driving forces of earned media is usually a combination of strong organic rankings on the Search Engines and content distributed by the brand. First-page rankings and good content are typically the biggest drivers of earned media.

Rankings on the first page of the search engines place your owned media sites and content links in a position to receive higher engagement and shares, which is why a good SEO strategy is crucial. When it comes to brand content, interesting, informative content can come in all shapes and sizes. PR and guest posts are common examples of earned media. Whether it be a blog, infographic, video, press release, webinar, or e-book, the bottom line is that the content has to be worthwhile in order to receive the value of earned media; which is why a great content strategy is also important.

What is Owned Media?

Definition: Owned media is any web property that you can control and is unique to your brand.

One of the most common examples of owned media is a website, although blog sites and social media channels are other examples of owned media properties too. Channels like social media and blogs are extensions of your website, and all three are extensions of your brand as a whole. Simply put, owned media encompasses various types of media that you (your company) have control over. The more owned media you have, the more chances you have to extend your brand presence in the digital sphere. (Check out our post on SEO for blogs to earn better rankings!)

What is Paid Media?

Simply put, the definition of paid media is marketing you pay for. Holistically, it is used to promote content in order to drive earned media, as well as direct traffic to owned media properties.

Paying to promote content can help get the ball rolling and create more exposure. Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn offer paid media advertising that could potentially help boost your content as well as your website. Another way to gain more exposure for your content is to pay influencers to rep your products or services, impacting the reach and recognition your pieces receive. Retargeting, Pay Per Click (PPC) and display ads are effective examples of paid media and more direct way to drive searchers to your owned media sites like your website, to help increase traffic and/or conversions.

Key Roles of the Earned, Owned & Paid Media Trifecta

  • All three elements, owned media, earned media and paid media play important roles in a digital media strategy. It’s up to you to evaluate these three themes and decide where to allocate your resources to make the most sense for your brand.
  • Owned media sites are an extension of your brand and create additional avenues for people to interact with your brand. When it comes to owned media, as long as you can keep up with the maintenance, the more the merrier.
  • Earned media is the equivalent of online word of mouth and is the vehicle that drives traffic, engagement and sentiment around a brand. While there are different ways a brand can garner earned media, good SEO and content strategies are the most controlled and effective.
  • Paid media is a great way to promote content in order to generate more earned media and can also be used to drive traffic directly to your owned media properties.

While each element has its own role, using Earned, Owned and Paid Media all together in marketing will make your digital media strategy that much more effective. Need help with your digital strategy? Contact us!