Paid, Owned and Earned Media for the Layman

April 16, 2011Uncategorized

Earned, Owned and Paid media are steadily becoming to the new key phrases thrown around marketing and media boardrooms. If you don’t know what they mean, then best keep your head down (or read on), as these phrases will be shaping the approach of online marketers for many years to come.

In essence, earned, owned and paid media categorise the media options available to marketers. A top marketing professional will be able to stitch these three areas together to create an all-encompassing approach to promotion and business growth.

In simple terms, owned media is your media – be it your website, your blog, your mobile site, your twitter account or your monthly newsletters. It’s all the media platforms that you control and own. These platforms give you the space to promote, announce, and implement ANYTHING you like. This is your media output (hence owned) and is the one that you have the most power over.

Paid media is media that you buy in order to drive users to your owned channel. This could be banner ads, paid sponsorships, paid search ads. In the past, this was possibly one of the easiest ways to build traffic to your site, yet now – in the more savvy online media world – this does not hold up as much. In fact, some paid media has a negative influence because it is exactly that – an obviously paid-for way to gain clicks. What the market is now demanding, is that online marketers who choose to go down the paid media route to gain followers and grow business, must pull out their most creative minds. Paid media is no longer simply about buying media space or ad campaigns, it’s about paying for the most creative campaign you can think of and using that to turn from paid to earned…

Earned media is where the action happens. It’s possibly the most influential of all three. It’s also free, which certainly helps marketing budgets. However, never underestimate the amount of work that earning media takes. It is the most time consuming and laborious of all – and in effect, will actually cost you a great deal to get going. It’s termed ‘earned’ as when people share what you are doing or saying online, they are giving you a part of their media space – you are therefore earning their media.

However, an individual’s media space is sacred, which is why approach is everything with earned media. It’s been established that earned media works more efficiently when people believe that by sharing your media (owned or paid) they are:

• Boosting relations between their social group through shared experience / shared values / camaraderie / community.
• Showing off or solving something
• Sharing something that will benefit others financially / emotionally / physically / mentally.

There is obviously an important cross-over between these three and all can, and do, feed each other on the larger-scale of things. However, if there’s anything to note from the three areas above it’s that:

ONE: A Brand should aim to own their media! Don’t lose your brand name on facebook as this could be your key to a carefully orchestrated owned/earned media cross over. Facebook are taking steps to ensure that brands own their pages and fans own groups – however, a lot of names have already been owned and are being used on the behalf of others.

Want to find out if someone else owns your media? Check here:

TWO: People can see through paid campaigns. Before you blow your budget on a banner ad, think twice. People are not dazzled by online advertising anymore and that money is quite likely best spend elsewhere.

THREE: Earned media, although not traditionally ‘paid’ for, takes time and effort and will most certainly eat into your budget in this way.


Tracy Fitzgerald- Senior Content Strategist

One Comment

Leave a Reply