Paid, Owned & Earned Media: What are the Differences?

You may have heard the terms “Paid, Owned and Earned Media” before now, but perhaps you never understood the differences between them. Taking the time to recognize what makes each one unique, and how it affects digital marketing, is sure to help you execute marketing strategies more effectively and efficiently. And—if this is the first you’re hearing of these terms—all the more reason to settle in for some valuable insight.

What are the differences between paid, owned and earned media?

With so many digital marketing channels at your disposal, it can be challenging to prioritize them in a way that makes sense for your goals—and your budget. Paid, owned and earned media categorizes these channels in a way that helps you create and maintain helpful marketing strategies.

Before we look at how they can work together, let’s go over each one individually.

An overview of owned, paid and earned media for marketing.

Paid Media

The term paid media is exactly what it sounds like: you pay for your marketing to show up in front of your audience.

This can include everything from search engine and display ads, to ads on social media, paid influencers and even native advertising.

Paid media is a great way to get an immediate return on investment. It helps you generate leads quickly, and it directs your audience back to your owned media where you can nurture them and—eventually—make a sale. It’s also relatively easy to measure the effectiveness of your paid media using analytics.

The caveats to all this are you can only scale as quickly as your paid media budget allows, and conversion rates on paid media are lower than owned and earned media.

Speaking of, let’s jump over to those next categories.

Owned Media

With owned media, you own everything: your website, your blog, and your social media accounts. You are not paying for this content to show up in front of your audience, but you have control over all of it.

Owned media is a smart investment in any marketing strategy because it has staying power. You can start a website and blog on day one of a business and maintain it all the way until the end.

That being said, creating owned media takes time—both in developing the content and getting it in front of your audience. It’s an organic process, but it has the opportunity to grow and gain momentum over time.

Your owned media is critical to the marketing mix because it helps you build long-term relationships and earn media, too.

Earned Media

The term earned media is cut and dry: you earn the marketing that shows up in front of people.

This can be anything from a press release about your business to someone talking about your products on social media.

The big benefit of earned media as part of your marketing strategy is it’s like free advertising. Your business shows up in front of your audience at no cost to you.

The downside to is you don’t own or control what’s being put out there – which also means, you guessed it, there’s always a chance it can be negative media.

How do paid, owned and earned media work together?

Now that there’s an understanding of the differences of each media on its own, it’s important to see how to combine them for an effective marketing strategy.

The easiest way to do that is with a good example:

Let’s say you have a special deal you want to publish to social media. Instead of just pushing it organically, you pay for it to show up as an ad on that platform. The ad catches the attention of a social media influencer and they promote it on their account, which shows up in front of even more people.

This is a perfect way to combine paid, owned and earned media for a big impact.

Mastering each requires a variety of digital marketing skills. For owned media to be successful, marketers need a grasp of content strategy, audience, and buyers journey; skills that are mastered with Advanced Content Marketing Training. Paid media skills entail an understanding of PPC, SEO, social media, and even channel-specific know-how including Facebook, Twitter, and the other big names in social media. All of the above are covered in addition to skills like identifying influencers in full-fledged programs like the Digital Marketing Specialist Masters Program.

Now that you can identify the differences between paid, owned and earned media, what are some other ways can you combine your digital marketing channels for maximum effect?

About the Author

Rob SandersRob Sanders

Rob Sanders is a digital marketing veteran with over 20 years of experience. During that time, Rob has helped a wide range of companies utilize new and emerging technologies to increase sales and profitability. As founder of RSO Consulting, Rob helps clients maximize their digital marketing efforts via SEO, SEM, SMO, and Web Analytics. He is responsible for many facets of the web analytics value chain, from identifying business goals and objectives to developing strategies and translating those into Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Rob also teaches digital marketing and analytics classes throughout the U.S. and abroad. As a contributor for Simplilearn, Rob creates expert thought leadership content on a variety of digital marketing and analytics topics.

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