Earned Media vs. Paid Media vs. Owned Media
Three pillars of marketing and PR strategy include owned media, earned media and paid media. These terms appear frequently in online marketing discussions, but what exactly do they mean? How are they important to your company? How can you combine them to accomplish your goals of attracting and retaining customers?
Owned media consists of the content you control, mainly your website and social media content. How to create effective content for your website and social media channels is a very extensive topic, fit for its own blog, but in short, owned media content should be the first place your company invests its time and resources. The quality of your company’s owned media determines the success of earned and paid media.
Earned media results from word of mouth. Some of the biggest successes in earned media occur when a journalist includes your company in an online or printed article. Other forms of earned media include user-generated content such as company reviews, product reviews, social media reposts and more. Earned media is especially important in knowledge-focused industries such as fintech, where buying effective online advertising may not be possible. The benefits gained from earned media’s credibility greatly outweigh the relationship-building time it takes to obtain earned media. Helping journalists write articles by becoming a trusted source helps you gain earned media. Contributing articles to industry publication increases earned media, and elevates your company’s thought leadership at the same time.
Paid media is fairly self-explanatory – any paid tactics such as PPC ads, banner ads, boosted social posts, TV and YouTube ads. Solely relying on paid media is no longer an effective strategy. Your audience may not believe the content is credible since paid media is so easy to obtain. Because of ad blockers, native ads (also known as advertorials or sponsored content) are increasingly popular online and in print publications. Paid media can drive traffic to your owned media through methods such as LinkedIn sponsored updates and promoted tweets. Paying influencers to mention your company or show your product on social media or blogs is a newer form of paid media.
Combining Owned, Earned and Paid Media
How do you combine all three types of media to create a great strategy? Earned and paid tactics overlap by using paid promotions to increase sharing and engagement of earned media. Paid and owned media overlap when you drive traffic to your website with social media ads and PPC ads. Owned and earned media overlap when you use SEO and company website content to get traffic that leads to journalistic articles and social media shares.
As an example, consider your company’s presence at an industry conference. A publication writing about your company’s CEO speaking at the event is earned media, sponsoring the event is paid media, blogging about the event on your company website is owned media. A simple strategy to combine the three types of media can start with creating owned media, getting earned media as a result of owned media, then driving traffic with paid media. For the previous event example, you could send links to the company blog posts to journalists as background information for covering your company’s presence at the event. Then use paid media such as social media ads or boosted posts to drive traffic to the blog posts about your company speaking at the event, and later to drive traffic to the earned media.