Owned, Earned and Paid Media Explained

Owned, earned and paid media are all important elements of a solid digital marketing strategy, but what do they actually mean, and what should you be doing with them? Here at Embryo Digital, we deal with owned, earned and paid media every day. In this blog, we’ll explain the difference between each of these media types, and how they can impact on your business.

Owned Media

Owned media is, funnily enough, media that your company owns. This is any content you’ve written or created that is published on a channel you own. The most common type of owned media is your website and all the content on it, but it also extends to things like your company blog and social media posts and content, as well as any other materials like white papers, infographics, reports or ebooks your company has created and published.

Focusing on owned media is fantastic as part of a long-term strategy, increasing your authority in the field, developing your brand’s unique style and tone of voice, as well as cultivating a highly interactive and dedicated user base for very little financial cost. Owned media should never be too self-promotional or technical, and instead should give users genuine, original and useful information. Dedicating time to owned media is a great way to improve SEO rankings, as it primarily involves producing quality content, which is very favourable when it comes to optimising your site.

Owned media, for all its benefits, is a very time-consuming strategy, but if used effectively will create a strong brand identity and gain a dedicated follower base, leading to interaction, conversions and future growth.

Earned Media

Earned media is the amplification of your owned media, and encompasses any talk or buzz about your brand online. Social media shares, retweets, mentions and reposts are all forms of earned media, as is any form of press coverage, reviews, recommendations, third party use of owned media and other content about your company written and published by users independent of your organisation.

Earned media increases your audience and the number of people hearing things about your brand without having to pay for it. It is also the most likely breeding ground for viral coverage of your business, which makes it perfect for brand building campaigns.

Earned media is generally considered more trustworthy, as it comes from unbiased sources. The vast majority of people trust recommendations from people they know, and in the current digital landscape, this extends to trusted reviewers and influencers too. In fact, 92% of people say they trust earned media. Getting influencers to talk about your brand can be incredibly valuable for your business, as conversion rates for earned media are generally around 5%, compared to only 1% for paid media.

However, earned media can be volatile as you have no control over the messages being put out about your brand. There is nothing to stop influencers from giving your products bad reviews or stopping bad press from coming your way, but having a strong owned and paid media strategy can help to minimise negative messages and to neutralise any bad press.

Paid media, as the name implies, is media that has been paid for. This includes PPC, paid social ads, paid influencer content and display ads. Anything you have paid for to drive traffic to your owned media channels comes under the paid media umbrella.

Paid media increases awareness of your brand, and means you can control the message being sent out, but unlike owned or earned media, you do have to pay for it. Paid campaigns are great for attracting traffic to your site and attention to your brand in a short space of time. It is flexible and quickly adaptable, as well as being easy to track and analyse. You can also target paid media far more accurately than owned or earned, making it a good way to reach your target user base directly.

Paid media is probably the easiest of the three media types to understand as it most closely resembles traditional marketing practices, but for the best ROI, it can’t be used on its own.

The Ideal Strategy

In order to tackle the media landscape properly, you really need a mix of all three – owned, earned and paid media all together.

Each media type bolsters a different stage of the sales funnel, meaning a gap in your media strategy can impact the entire sales process. Paid media points traffic towards your site containing useful and valuable owned content which, on further research from the user, is backed up by your earned media. This combination works to create a “second opinion” effect, raising awareness of your brand and giving it credibility all at once.

Each type of media has its advantages and disadvantages, and while different combinations of the three will work better for different companies and industries, the “convergence” of owned, earned and paid media is the foundation of a solid digital marketing strategy for any business.
If you need help converging your owned, earned and paid media and maximising your ROI, contact Embryo Digital and see the difference we can make to your digital strategy.


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