Paid, Owned and Earned Media

Paid, Owned and Earned Media – An Introduction 

In a world where there is so much clutter and so many companies and brands competing for the space to get their message heard, a content strategy is one of those of things we should all be thinking about as we head into 2016.

All good content strategies should use an integrated approach – so multiple channels to make sure they great content produced and written / filmed / or photographed really gets seen by the right people.

However, before getting into the specifics of an integrated approach it is worth understanding the differences between the different types of media available – Paid, Owned and Earned.

What is Paid Media?

Paid Media is usually considered to be ‘traditional advertising’ and includes print ads, TV ads, radio ads, banner ads online, paid search marketing and content syndication (where you pay for editorial content to appear online, otherwise known as native advertising).

What are its advantages?

  • Usually paid media is used to create brand awareness or acquire new customers.
  •  Paid media is easily scalable and also quick! If you have a message that needs to get out to a large market it is likely to be a great channel for you to consider.
  • You also have complete control over the message and marketing spend, however it can of course be expensive.


  •  There are disadvantages however to just using a paid media approach. As mentioned in the first para of this blog post, we are operating in a very cluttered content space. Many consumers ignore pure brand messages, as there are just so many out there!
  • To have impact, you need to make sure you have a good budget, so whilst you have complete control it is the most expensive type of media usually.

What is Owned Media?

Owned Media is content that your company or brand has complete control over, including your website, blogs, email newsletter and also (to a degree) social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram. However, it should be noted that elements of your social presence also fall into the earned media category (for example facebook reviews, retweets or brand mentions etc).

What are its advantages?

  • It is affordable. Whilst many people believe it is free, it isn’t of course. Websites obviously cost money to set up and whilst setting up social channels are free, you need to consider time and labour to continuously manage the channels. It takes a lot of time to create content, build an online community and have a conversation with your customers.
  • You are having a conversation directly with an engaged audience. They have chosen to visit your website, like your Facebook page or subscribe to your email newsletter. That means they are likely to already be customers or very close to being one!
  • Again you can create the content you want. However, be mindful social media assets are not controlled. You need to consider a model for monitoring the page and responding quickly to questions and any issues that arise.


  • It takes time to do it well. As with anything really! Creating good content that your audience loves and values takes time and so does building a community. This applies to all of your owned media assets. This is where that good content plan comes in!

What is Earned Media?

Earned Media is the natural result of your public or media relation’s efforts, events or content that you created within your owned media channels.

It could be media stories about your business, influencers in your industry with a blog writing about you comments or brand mentions about you on Twitter, a review on Facebook or Google or perhaps mentions on a forum.

It is very much what us PR folk have been doing for years now and is sometimes considered the holy grail of the paid, owned and earned media channels.

A great example is our work with Daniel Ink, as you can see in our portfolio.

What are its advantages?

  • Although not free as many people suggest! Whilst you don’t pay for it as such, you always need to consider time taken to develop relationships with influencers or perhaps a PR firms fees to help you.
  • People trust the enthusiasms and recommendations of friends, acquaintances and personal relationships more than paid media.


  •  Lack of control. Many companies are concerned an earned social media campaign could become an opportunity for negative commentary amongst the community – ie open up the flood gates to keyboard warriors. However, this is where if you have the resources to manage it well, this will not be an issue.
  • Time and effort. As mentioned above, it does take time and this is a cost that needs to be factored in.
  • Often harder to track and measure, however us PR folk are getting better at it! Media and social content analysis are just one of our tools of the trades and we have a lot of social media monitoring software available to us now.


Paid Owned and Earned Media, Hola PR Perth WA

Paid Owned and Earned Media, Hola PR Perth Western Australia


An integrated strategy

 Whilst each channel plays its own role, your content will work best for you if you can integrate two or more of the channels into one campaign or initiative.

With each channel working alongside each other, you will be able to reach your customers and start a conversation with them where, how and when you want – regardless of the channel, medium or device.

Want some advice on your content strategy for 2016? Then get in touch by email us at [email protected] and we would love to have a conversation with you!







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