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Paid, Owned and Earned Media – What’s the Difference?

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When it comes to public relations, there are three main types of media we use as communication channels; paid, owned and earned media. Each type is very distinct and has its own pros and cons, but a good digital media strategy makes use of all three. We’ve outlined the differences between the three so you can decide which media type (or combination of media types!) will work best for your business.

Paid Media

Paid media is any form of paid advertising – social media, online marketing tools and search engine advertising, just to name a few. Paid media is a great way to start your marketing journey, as it will increase exposure for your brand and content, and drive traffic to your website and other owned channels. Another form of paid media that is quickly growing in popularity is influencer marketing – using social media influencers to promote and create content for your brand. The main advantage of paid media is that it is highly controllable. Campaigns can be started and finished at will, and costs and return on investment can be easily calculated. With this in mind, when used without strategy, paid media has the potential to create distrust, and many consumers use ad-blocking software to avoid seeing internet advertising. It’s therefore important to make sure your target audience is correct, and make your paid content thumb-stopping and engaging to them.

Owned Media

Having a strong online brand presence is crucial for any company, and is often the first port of call for consumers seeking information. It’s therefore critical that any channels of owned media are high quality, effective and reliable in providing all the information a consumer would need (and more!). Owned media means any in-house media channels, including the company’s website, blog, social media profiles, newsletters, etc. The main advantage of owned media is that the company has total control over their channels and the content they’re producing. It’s also a cost-effective way to communicate with consumers. The more owned media you have, the more opportunity you have to solidify and expand your brand’s presence in the online media landscape. Some disadvantages of owned media, however, are that unless you are utilising optimisation tools or boosting your content, audience growth can be slower and more difficult. It can also sometimes be regarded as biased or less credible in the eyes of the consumer, as it’s directly coming from your brand rather than being endorsed by a third party. This is, however, where earned media comes in!

Earned Media

Earned media is content relating to your brand, products or services that a third party has created, or any coverage that you might receive through other sources. In traditional channels like newspapers or radio, this is achieved through media relations. Online, it can occur when users spread and share your content organically, and is thought of as “electronic word of mouth”. When users create content about your brand themselves through posts, testimonials, reviews, comments, etc, this qualifies as earned media. Earned media is most effectively driven by SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – creating high quality content and making website improvements to ensure your website ranks highly in search engines. No matter the type of content, whether it be a blog, social media post or press release, it has to be interesting and add value to readers. Earned media is considered to be highly credible, and is another way of increasing exposure and reaching new audiences. The disadvantage to earned media, however, is that there’s little control over it (what the content might be and when it might be published), and it can be difficult to monitor and measure results.

Each media type has its merits, but they work best when combined! Deciding on what mix will work best for you depends completely on your brand, resources and objectives. If you need a media strategy for your business, please contact us on (07) 3854 1455 or fill in our contact form here.