Paid media

Quite simply, it’s all the advertising you pay for. This includes amongst other things:

  • Print ads
  • TV ads
  • Display ads
  • Paid search
  • Promoted posts on Facebook
  • Sponsored tweets

Basically anything that you’ve paid for in order to drive traffic to your ‘owned media’ properties. The audience for paid media is generally made up of strangers to brand and its services.  

Owned media

All the cool properties that belong to your brand which you control:

  • Your website
  • Mobile site
  • Retail stores (online and offline)
  • Blogs
  • Social media channels
  • Apps
  • Magazines
  • Brochures

It’s down to the strength (quality, persuasiveness, relevance) of these properties to determine whether the strangers driven to your owned media by paid media will become customers.

The strength of these owned media experiences will also determine whether your customers will then become fans of yours. Fans drive ‘earned media’.

Earned media

It’s the free publicity generated by your fans. You didn’t pay for it, because you earned it… Good work! Either your hilarious online video, your superior ecommerce experience or your constantly engaging Twitter account has been good enough for someone to create a positive piece of content for you or share your original content further. This can include:

  • Retweets
  • Facebook Likes
  • YouTube comments
  • Shares
  • Revines
  • Bloggers writing about your product
  • Online reviews
  • Word of mouth

If a video ad that you paid to make is shared by someone on social media this ‘sharing’ is still called earned media.

Unlike paid or owned media, you can’t really control the above examples (no matter how hard you wish to try). It’s in the hands of your ‘fans’. However earned media is how your brand may become wildly popular, so if you trust your own brand and products than you should trust in earned media.

Does SEO fit into one of the three categories?

A good SEO strategy should be part of the creation of your online ‘owned media’ properties. SEO can help your site rank higher in organic search listings, therefore driving more searchers to your website.

Likewise, if more and more people are sharing your brilliant content and it’s being featured all around the web in an earned capacity, than this is brilliant for your brand and practically doing your SEO’s job for it in driving traffic to your site.

SEO rests in the space between owned and earned if you don’t mind a slightly less than definitive answer. Does it really matter though? Probably not, the results are after all the same.

This is just a very simple guide and it’s by no means definitive nor should you assume that everything happens in a straight line: Paid->Owned->Earned. Sometimes paid can lead straight to earned. A Facebook comment (earned) can be the first time someone hears about a company and that drives them straight to a website (owned) cutting out paid altogether.

Further reading for beginners…

During my first year at Econsultancy I’ve been making a point of writing beginner’s guides to any new terms or phrases I find particularly baffling, or that I might suspect other people may find baffling too. 

The following related articles should help clear up a few things:

Our Festival of Marketing event in November is a two day celebration of the modern marketing industry, featuring speakers from brands including LEGO, Tesco, Barclays, and more.