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3 Media Elements of Marketing: Earned vs. Owned vs. Paid

3 Media Elements of Marketing: Earned vs. Owned vs. Paid

Navigating the online marketing environment can be challenging as there are a variety of different channels and strategies that can be used. What’s even more difficult is the infinitely growing competition for recognition (which in turn diminishes the chance your company’s message will reach your target audience).

The average adult spends 5.2 hours consuming media and is exposed to roughly 360 ads per day. With ads on virtually every inch of real estate — both online and off — if a potential customer sees your ad, will it resonate? In fact, only 2.8 percent of users believe the online ads they see are relevant. The best way a company can reach its end-user is to optimize its mix of paid, owned and earned media.


Paid Media

paidmediaiconBanners, popups, search ads, social network ads, email ads and more are all examples of online paid media. Companies can purchase space on popular websites such as Google Adwords and Facebook Ads to display their messages. Unfortunately for businesses, sponsored ads on social networking sites are only trusted by 30 percent of consumers.

Generally, online audiences dislike popup ads, especially those that are entrance popups and prevent the reader from viewing content. Other types such as timed, scroll-activated, readers choice and exit intent popups are created to be more subtle and less frustrating to interact with.

As online advertising becomes more crucial for website revenue, innovation in software is occurring to make ads more effective and audiences more receptive. PopupAlly is a WordPress plugin that implements opt-in email or signup forms to websites in order to obtain customer email addresses in a polite and courteous manner.

There are also third party companies available that specialize in paid media, such as RadiumOne.  RadiumOne customizes online, video, social and mobile ads to consumers based on their own individual social networking data. Online users constantly demand free content such as games, videos or articles.  Engage is one of their unique products that guarantees ads or brand offers will be seen by potential customers.

Engage essentially requires the user to interact with the brand offer in order to build up a cache of “currency”. The “currency” enables them to continue to their intended destination. Paid media ads have the potential to be successful, mostly as a result of their ability to target specific audiences and to be controlled and tailored. Paid media can increase exposure and increase traffic to your other forms of media, such as owned media.


Owned Media

ownedmediaiconOwned online media includes all of the communication channels a company has direct control over. A company’s media outlets now include company websites, Facebook and Twitter accounts, blogs or emails. Utilizing owned media is a great way to promote products by giving detailed product information to potential and current customers and increase communication with them.

Email marketing allows this communication to occur and is partially dependent on paid advertisements to generate email address lists. One study conducted by eMarketer shows that 88 percent of companies with over 100 employees use social media for marketing purposes. The more media outlets a company owns, the greater the likelihood of increasing customer contact, exposure and online presence.


Earned Media

earnedmediaiconEarned media is essentially free advertising or publicity that stems from earning the approval (or lack thereof) of customers. The company “earns” or gains attention from their customers that is then spread via word-of-mouth. Some of the more common forms include online ratings and reviews such as Yelp reviews or posts on social media that mentions or shares the product. When a customer mentions, shares or reposts content, he or she is advertising on behalf of the company directly to his or her entire personal network. Such activity drives traffic to company websites and ultimately prompts exchange.

One of the best examples of earned media is the popularity of Oreo’s 100 year anniversary campaign in 2012. Every day for 100 days, Oreo released a new cookie design ad that related to the world’s trends, news and festivities that day. The campaign went viral and received 433 million Facebook views with a 280 percent increase in shares and 510 percent increase in retweets. Some of the cookies highlighted the Mars rover landing, Shark Week and the US Olympic Women’s Gymnastics team’s gold medal win. The most popular post was the rainbow oreo in celebration of Pride, which generated 143,000 likes and a significant amount of media attention. It was mentioned in Time Magazine, on the Colbert Report, Jimmy Kimmel Live, Real Time with Bill Maher and several other platforms.

Professional bloggers and social media influencers know how to utilize earned media to its full potential by marketing products to their online audience. This form of earned media is so influential because audiences are receptive to hearing personal opinions and experiences with products. A Nielsen study found that 92 percent of consumers trust word of mouth recommendations over advertisements.

The only potential drawback of earned media is that it is uncontrolled. If a product lacks quality, negative publicity will spread throughout the market. The power of word-of-mouth marketing encourages companies to maintain a certain standard of quality and reminds companies to actively engage with their customers to ensure satisfaction.


Understanding the Media Industry

Even though earned media is the most effective and trusted form of marketing, it isn’t the only option out there. Before earned media can truly be a key instrument in your company’s marketing strategy, customers must first try and use the product in order to share its benefits with the rest of the world on online platforms. As we saw before, owned media in the form of email marketing cannot be implemented if not for collecting email addresses using paid ads. The interplay of paid, owned and earned all are necessary for customer engagement. Overall, consumers are influenced by all three types of media, and all three types are influenced by each other.


For more ways on how to improve your company’s marketing strategy, check out our FREE marketing research reports for the best marketing software.

[Main Image courtesy of Pixabay.]
[Diagram Image courtesy of Titan-SEO]
[Oreo Image courtesy of Business Insider]

Lauren N.

3 Media Elements of Marketing: Earned vs. Owned vs. Paid
Lauren is a Content Marketing Intern at, where she contributes original content to the blog.