One thing you need in your arsenal as a winning marketer is a strong grasp of paid, owned and earned media and the differences between them. Finding that perfect combination for your brand can work wonders, but it certainly takes plenty of time and lashings of that proverbial elbow grease.

Good things come to those who wait and, well, do their research, so we’re here to help you get started. Whether you’ve got an opportunity to start influencer marketing or you want to ramp up your ad spend to complement other organic activities, this is the guide for you. 


What Is Earned Media?

Earned media are examples of other people talking about your brand via the likes of social channels, blogs and news and review platforms. They occur when the coverage is earned because of the experience the person or brand has had with your products or services. As you can imagine, they can be pretty rewarding results for any keen marketeer, such is the effort that goes into securing them.

This kind of publicity can come from PR campaigns or factoring influencers into your marketing strategy, especially through tactics like gifting. This is a way of naturally promoting your products through nano- or micro-influencers who genuinely love them, as opposed to simply paying macro-influencers to post about them regardless of their personal tastes.


Earned Media vs Owned Media

The main difference between earned media and owned media is in whose voice they represent. The former can be the earned voices of influencers, for instance, while the latter can be the owned voice of the brand itself. 

Owned media typically appear on your site, your blog or your social channels because they’re platforms that are owned and controlled by you. There’s no need to pay a fee to publish content on any of them. 

This ownership has its benefits, of course. You have free will to post what you want, when you want, so there are essentially no restrictions on your content output on owned channels. 

It also has its limitations, though, in that it can be extremely difficult and laborious to gain any sort of traction on what you post. It can take months or even years for you to see the commercial benefit of a well-executed content strategy on your website, so owned media are usually part of the long game when it comes to building your brand and online visibility.

Earned media can often provide quicker wins when you work with influencers, for instance, but don’t be fooled into thinking you’ll get overnight success with such a strategy. It’s called ‘earned’ for a reason, of course, so the groundwork to find the right influencers, build a level of trust and nurture the relationships needs to be done


Earned Media vs Paid Media

It’s a different story when you bring paid media into the mix. This kind of coverage comes in the form of ads on social media, search engines, websites and apps online and on TV, billboards and in print form offline. Naturally, you have to pay for the privilege, but this approach can reap rapid rewards when executed correctly.

Your paid ads can appear anywhere you want them to be and in front of anyone you want to target, given you’ve got enough budget to pay for it. You don’t have to earn the coverage or own the platform, but you do have to get your creative right if your ads are going to resonate.

Paid media campaigns can lead to quicker results than their earned and owned counterparts, but they shouldn’t be rushed by any stretch. In much the same way as you would take your time finding the right influencers for your earned campaign, you should carefully narrow down your list of ideal platforms for paid promotion to make sure you’re hitting the right eyes at the right times.

Ideally (but budget-permitting), you want your paid, earned and owned campaigns to be working together and supporting each other throughout your varied and often complicated customer journeys. Being active where your prospective customers are active and speaking to them through the appropriate voices, be that your brand or that of an influencer or an existing customer, will set you up for success as part of a long-term marketing strategy.


Paid Media Examples

Paid media: An example of a display ad for Honda Car on The Independent’s website

Paid placements can come in a range of formats and are usually instantly identifiable as an advert. Existing formats include: 

  • Display ads
  • Paid search ads (PPC)
  • Paid social ads
  • Sponsorships
  • TV advertisements
  • Newspaper ads
  • Billboards


Earned Media Examples


Earned media: An example of an Instagram review for Get Baked


Earned media can take a little longer to come to fruition, but the hard graft can be worth it when the likes of the following start to roll in: 

  • Word of mouth
  • Influencer outreach and content
  • Shares and retweets
  • Mentions 
  • Reviews
  • Testimonials
  • Editorials

Owned Media Examples

Owned media: An example of an owned channel, ManiLife’s Twitter account


Owned media are essentially any channels or platforms that are owned and controlled by the brand behind them, such as:

  • Websites
  • Google Business Profile
  • Blogs
  • Social media profiles
  • Apps


Once you understand the range of media at your disposal, the possibilities seem endless. This is especially true when you consider paid, owned and earned media in a Venn diagram—combine all three and make use of the overlaps between them and you’ll be onto a winner. 

To find out more about working with influencers on your paid, earned and owned media needs, get in touch at today.