Paid, owned, and earned media

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Earned vs Owned vs Paid Media: What is The Difference?

Paid, owned, and earned media are terms you will hear used in marketing and are used to increase your presence online. But do you know the difference between the three and how they work?

We’re going back to basics today in this article, showing you the key differences between different types of media, how they work, plus some pros and cons.

Paid, Owned, Earned Media TLDR Graphic

a graphic which shows some examples of paid, owned and earned media

Earned Media

Earned media is anything relating to your brand or business that is external and isn’t controlled by you.

Earned media includes:

  • Media articles
  • People sharing your content or linking to it
  • Review websites
  • Social media mentions and shoutouts

Earned media is often considered the most difficult of the three to achieve success because you have no control over it. Other than hiring a PR agency to help out, earned media comes naturally when you…you’ve guessed it…earned it! You can earn recognition from others by producing a great product or having exceptional service, by creating interesting and unique content, or by having a great story to tell or unique selling points.

Earned Media Pros And Cons

The most obvious con of earned media is that it is difficult to achieve! Earned media takes time and you will have to work at building your reputation or producing content people want to share. The lack of control you have over earned media can be an issue too. If you’re fussy about details about your brand for example, or if you earn bad reviews.

There are two major pros to earned media. The first is that it is more authoritative and influential than owned or paid media. Customers or consumers are more likely to trust the view of your business that comes from a third party that hasn’t been paid to sing your praises! Earned media also has a longer-lasting impact than paid media, for example. As soon as you stop advertising your business, sales may drop but with earned media, you could potentially feel the benefits for years.

Another pro for earned media is that it is free! Free from cost but you may have to spend time developing content, requesting reviews/feedback etc. ideal for the thrifty digital marketer!

Owned Media

Owned media is any content produced in-house that you have complete control over.

Owned media examples include:

  • Posts on your social media channels
  • Your website content  
  • Blog posts and articles
  • Email campaigns or newsletters

Owned media is great because it can be used for several purposes – the first being to sell, but also educate, influence, and establish your authority over a certain topic. You have full creative freedom over your owned media and can use it to create a picture of your brand, build a story, win people over and gain fans!

Owned Media Pros And Cons

The one major con to owned media is the time required to create excellent content. Writing educational blogs, winning web content, and engaging social media posts takes time. Then there are videos, graphics, and photographs…all owned content takes time to produce. Make sure you have a solid content marketing strategy in place that will help you schedule and plan all the content you want to produce and determine the value of the content and what the goal is.  

Owned media can also be difficult to ‘put out there’. You can write cracking blogs but what if nobody sees them? The same applies to social media – achieving reach with just an organic strategy is doable but is hard work!

The pros of earned media include the fact that you control the narrative, can build up an image of your brand, and essentially try to influence how you are seen. Owned media is also low cost if you are DIY-ing it but remember there is the time cost. If you don’t fancy DIY-owned media, you can outsource to agencies like ours 😉

Paid Media

Paid media is media you have paid for, usually in the form of adverts.

Paid media examples include:

  • Google Ads (or paid adverts on other search engines)
  • Paid social media adverts
  • Display adverts
  • Paid work with influencers or content creators

Paid media can be used in different ways but is typically used to drive traffic to your website or buy products. You have creative control to a certain extent over paid adverts but this will be within the restrictions of a small ad space. You need to be able to get your message over quickly and entice people viewing your adverts to take the action you want them to.

Paid media can work fast to drive traffic to your website but can also be a money pit if you don’t know what you are doing! Take the time to learn how paid advertising works or use a pay per click management service. When done correctly, paid media is a winning way to drive traffic and boost sales.

Paid Media Pros And Cons

Paid media is expensive, there is no getting around it! Yes, there is a ROI but this only comes if your adverts are engaging, well targeted and relevant. Initially, you may lose money whilst you figure out what works and what doesn’t so there are some upfront costs to be expected.

The pro of paid media is that when it works well, it works really well! You can quite quickly increase traffic to your website and sell products. Just be aware that paid media is usually short-term – as soon as you turn those ads off, the traffic and customers will drop.

Need Help With Paid, Owned, and Earned Media?

I hope this little guide to paid, owned, and earned media has been helpful. Next week I will write a follow-up guide that explains how the three interact with each and how you can plan to successfully include all three elements in your digital marketing plans.

If you have any questions in the meantime or need help with your paid, owned or earned media, get in touch!

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