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Bhavleen Rekhi


Think of earned, owned and paid media like a tripod. Each element is an important part of the
whole and all contribute to a complete digital marketing strategy. The illustration above outlines
each element’s role and how they work together to form a cohesive marketing mix.

Earned, Owned and Paid Media Defined

Earned media – If owned media sites are the destination then earned media is the vehicle that
helps people get there. What good is a website or social media site if no one is seeing or
interacting with it? That’s where earned media comes in. Earned media is an essentially online
word of mouth, usually seen in the form of ‘viral’ tendencies, mentions, shares, reposts, reviews,
recommendations, or content picked up by 3rd party sites. One of the most effective driving
forces of earned media is usually a combined result of strong organic rankings on the Search
Engines, and content distributed by the brand. First page rankings and good content are typically
the biggest drivers. Rankings on the first page of the search engines place your owned media
sites and content links in a position to receive higher engagement and shares, which is why a
good SEO strategy is crucial. When it comes to brand content, interesting, informative content
can come in all shapes and sizes. Whether it be a blog, infographic, video, press release, webinar
or e-book, the bottom line is that the content has to be worthwhile in order to receive the
valuable earned media; which is why a great content strategy is also important.
Owned media – Owned media is any web property that you can control and is unique to your
brand. One of the most common examples is a website, although blog sites and social media
channels are other examples of owned media properties too. Channels like social media and
blogs are extensions of your website, and all three are extensions of your brand as a whole. The
more owned media you have, the more chances you have to extend your brand presence in the
digital sphere. (Check out our post on SEO for blogs to earn better rankings!)

Paid media – Paid media is a good way to promote content in order to drive earned media, as
well as direct traffic to owned media properties. Paying to promote content can help get the ball
rolling and create more exposure. Social Media sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer
advertising that could potentially help boost your content as well as your website. Another way
to gain more exposure for your content is to pay influencers to tweet or share your links,
impacting the reach and recognition your pieces receive. Using retargeting, Pay Per Click
(PPC) and display ads is an effective and more direct way to drive searchers to your owned
media sites like your website, to help increase traffic and/or conversions.

Key Takeaways

 All three elements, owned, earned and paid are important to a digital media strategy. It’s
up to you to evaluate these three themes and decide where to allocate your resources to
make the most sense for your brand.
 Owned media sites are an extension of your brand and create additional avenues for
people to interact with your brand. When it comes to owned media, as long as you can
keep up with the maintenance, the more the merrier.
 Earned media is the equivalent of online word of mouth and is the vehicle that drives
traffic, engagement and sentiment around a brand. While there are different ways a brand
can garner earned media, good SEO and content strategies are the most controlled and
 Paid media is a great way to promote content in order to generate more earned media and
can also be used to drive traffic directly to your owned media properties.