What is earned media? Is it intrinsically more valuable than paid media? And how can you brand earn it? Let’s explore…

Whilst ‘content’ remains a generally poorly understood part of the overall marketing mix, understanding the three (yes, three!) different types of media can help you ensure you are leveraging your marketing budget as effectively as possible to generate maximum return on your investment.

Let’s start by defining the three types of media…


Content you’re fully in control of, e.g. your company website, infographics and social media accounts.

In digital marketing terms then, we’re talking about your brand’s unique web properties. Think of platforms like your blog and social media as extensions of your website, with all three acting as extensions of your brand as a whole.


• Easy way to distribute content


• Requires significant time investment


A method for amplifying your Owned Media. Think boosted Facebook posts, print advertising, TV adverts and display ads.

It’s all about promoting your content, not only to direct traffic to your owned media properties, but also works to drive earned media. Using PPC, retargeting and display ads are particularly effective at increasing traffic, but you can also work with Influencers to achieve a similar result.


• Tight control over targeting


• Can be expensive


Media your brand earns through word of mouth, e.g. referrals, PR, viral marketing, press mentions and published thought leadership articles.

So essentially, digital word-of-mouth marketing. With a great, carefully-planned content strategy, producing worthwhile articles, infographics, videos and e-books that are relevant and timely, exposure can easily be earned from mentions, shares, review, or recommendations. Strong organic rankings on search engines can greatly help with positioning your brand with the opportunity to gain higher engagement.


• Free (although often gained off the back of paid media efforts)


• Lack of control

Which is better?

An effective content strategy relies on more than just one channel, or even one technique for any business looking to get traction, generate high-quality leads and ultimately increase sales. Although the phrases are commonly thrown around in strategy meetings, the combined value of the tree is often misunderstood.

Whether it’s paid media, earned media or owned media, is it possible to combine all three in one strategy? we hear you ask.

The simple answer is Yes! Used in combination, these three elements represent a powerhouse of marketing and lead generation.

Here’s how to do just that…

Owned media generally targets the customers you already have, so it can be great for customer retention, to launch new products or send out loyalty offers. A paid media strategy is great for brand awareness among potential new customers who will not be exposed to your brands owned and earned media. And finally earned media is trusted significantly more by millennials and their digital peers than paid media because it represents industry leadership. Earned media comes from looking after your customers, adding value to the community and being open to engagement and dialogue across multiple platforms.

To summarise… no element of the digital marketing mix is intrinsically better than any other element, and earned, paid and owned media are best used in parallel for specific purposes and integrated for big brand-defining campaigns – a great example being Nike’s latest ‘Dream Crazier’ campaign.

This needs creating with our branding on it.

If you’re looking to build a converged media content plan for your business, our experts are here to help! Get in touch today.