Earned vs Paid vs Owned media: what’s the difference?

When it comes to the digital landscape, you’ve no doubt come across a whole sea of nouns and acronyms ranging from Paid Media and SEO to ROI and AOV, to name but a few. With so many to learn, understand and pick apart, it’s no wonder people may feel like they’re drowning!

We’ve outlined the differences in Earned, Owned and Paid media.

First things first, let’s see some definitions:

What is Earned media?

Traditionally speaking, Earned Media is coverage of a brand through organic means. This encompasses a range of different outlets such as honest reviews from customers, media coverage that hasn’t been paid for, mentions and social shares and influencer content.

Typically, you find that Earned Media isn’t something you can control directly. For example, you can ask your customers to leave honest reviews and feedback on your Yelp listing, but it’s down to them if they share a good, bad or no review at all.

Examples of earned media can include:

  • Reviews – There are a variety of platforms that users know and trust – Google Reviews, TrustPilot, Yelp, Feefo, and all the rest. Leaving honest feedback helps other potential customers inform their decisions. (As a bonus, reviews also help your local SEO strategy!)
  • Media coverage – This type of media coverage is when there isn’t a payment involved – so not a sponsored article or advertising spot in print. Usually, this type of coverage occurs from a PR campaign which is considered newsworthy and can generate natural news coverage whether in print or online
  • Social media shoutouts – This can occur in a few different ways such as a customer having an awesome experience with your brand, wanting to give a recommendation to others about a product or your content is so good/funny/sensational, that they just had to share it with others. Bonus if you’re able to get an influencer on board!

We’ve spoken to our inhouse Social Media expert, Hayley Jones, and asked her what the benefits are to Earned Media from a social perspective:

“On social, earned media is a cost-effective way of building trust and credibility for a brand. It can be nurtured through a dedicated community management strategy that serves to build a loyal fanbase of users that want to refer your brand and share their positive experiences with friends.”

What is Paid media?

Paid Media, as the name suggests, is media obtained through payment. Essentially, these are channels that cannot be used for free, so think TV ads, radio ads, product placement, social media ads and search engine ads, to name but a few.

There are many benefits and we’ve asked our in-house PPC expert, Chris Comber, to explain just how Paid Media can benefit your business:

Especially from a Digital perspective, it’s fast, responsive, and can be a great way of understanding your audience if you haven’t done so already. With the flexibility to dial up and down quickly and being extremely measurable, it can help you make business decisions that are cost effective with great ROI.”

Examples of paid media include:

  • PPCPay Per Click. If you’re a regular surfer of the internet, you’ve no doubt used a search engine to find content you want to see. Whether it’s Bing or Google, you will have seen the top results with their little “sponsored” or “ad” sign next to them. That listing has paid for the privilege of being there!
  • Television advertising – A TV channel will sell advertising spots and this price can vary depending on a number of different factors like channel, time of day, time of year etc.
  • Social Media Advertising – This utilises the different social media platforms (think Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin etc) and putting your product or service within their timeline/feed/inbox.

What is Owned media?

Owned Media is marketing assets and content that belongs to you/your brand. This is content that you can push out onto different digital or traditional channels and can be incredibly powerful when it comes to your content marketing campaigns.

Examples of owned media include:

  • Infographics that your brand has created – These can be shared on your website or social media channels
  • Photo assets of your products/services – Similar to the above, these can be shared on your website and social media channels
  • Press releases – This is content written internally that can then be shared through traditional PR channels
  • SEO Search Engine Optimisation is a form of owned media. You are carrying out the techniques yourself on your own website. If you wrote an incredible piece of SEO-optimised content, then Search Engines will rank it for specific targeted keyword phrases (and others that you may not be targeting). Allowing you to garner a “free” spot in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

We’ve spoken to our in-house SEO Expert, Sherin Malick, and asked her why businesses should be putting a focus on their owned media:

“A strong SEO strategy is vital for any business in any industry. By focussing on SEO, it can allow your business to increase both online visibility and site authority, allowing your core audience to find you via search engines. It can also support other marketing channels such as PR and social to allow you to be found through multiple touchpoints”.

Why should you be using Earned, Paid and Owned media?

Earned, Owned and Paid media are all incredibly powerful tools and are key considerations when it comes to a holistic marketing strategy. As a very basic example, you can create an incredible piece of owned media, which you then utilise through both your earned and paid media to help amplify and seed out your content to reach your campaign goals.

Ensuring all channel pistons are firing can ensure that your well-oiled marketing machine is going to holistically help itself and help you gain that greater ROI. Get in touch with our team to find out how we can help your marketing strategy.

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