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Beginners guide: Paid, Owned and Earned Media

The digital Marketing ecosystem

Understanding the key components that make-up the digital marketing ecosystem, and how these interact with one another is an essential part of a digital marketing strategy. -Nathalia Porras

The digital marketing ecosystem is conformed of all digital and social assets that make-up a brand online. The interaction of these assets- be it a website, a Facebook page or an online ad, should all be aligned with a product’s brand- in an ideal world!

However, in the real world there is only a fraction of these so-called digital and social assets that are owned and managed by a company or brand- the remaining assets can be in fact managed and influenced by fans or non-fans. Before a marketer launches its digital marketing strategy, it is important to understand the relationship between paid, owned and earned media.

Paid, owned and earned media



Paid media is considered to be traditional in nature.  It refers to all advertising that is paid for, such as: banners, TV, radio, Search Engine Marketing, Paid search (such as Google Adwords). Typically paid media looks to increase or create brand awareness and to acquire new customers.

Owned media refers to anything owned and controlled by oneself- such as a website, an app, social media channels that have been opened by the company (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, etc.).

In a successful campaign, paid media efforts should be driving traffic to owned media. For example, a well thought-out paid Facebook campaign should be driving leads to say a film’s website, in order to promote sales of for example DVD’s, or a theatrical release.

Finally, there is Earned media, which is the “reaping-the-results” stage of efforts made through paid and owned media. Earned media is referred to as the sweet spot of having fans write for example a great review on a film, it is a share on a trailer video with a comment saying “a must-see thriller”, it is a blogger writing about your product, it is comments on a YouTube channel and it is Facebook likes, comments and shares.

A great example  of earned media is the case of hockey fan social channels- these are non-official, and are not owned (nor are they managed) by the NHL.

Unlike the other categories of media, the latter one- earned media, is media that is not controlled by the company itself, but rather by others who take over the brand.

Nonetheless, although earned media can be positive for a brand, it should be carefully monitored to

  1. Avoid any tampering of your online reputation
  2. Understand (in real-time) what is working with your fans, and what is not, to ultimaltey learn from your experience.
  3. Respond to questions promptly and promote a two-way conversation

Of course, the biggest advantage of positive earned media is that fans become a brand’s biggest advocates, and act as multipliers for online marketing efforts.

To learn more on how to leverage your Owned, Earned and Paid media, contact-us and we’ll help you navigate those waters.

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