When it comes to the digital world, we are inundated with content in all forms. For companies, it can be difficult to ensure consumers sift through everything in order to see what you can offer. One way of ensuring you are seen through the saturated marketplace is through the type of media you use. Earned media, paid media, and owned media are three essential channels for all businesses or personal influencers who wish to have their content seen by potential customers. But what are the differences?

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What Is Earned Media?

Earned media is the coup de grace in the marketing world. Earned media refers to organic shares of your content – through viral tweets or Facebook posts or of organic PR reach for your website. The benefit of earned media means that the trust factor for customers is there as earned media is akin to word of mouth advertising, as Forbes argues. Media can be earned through some savvy marketing and by tapping into meme marketing to attempt to go viral. Or it can be earned through the sharing of a useful infographic or piece of video content. The drawback of earned media is that going viral also means you lose control of the message, which could potentially lead to PR disasters.

What is Paid Media?

Paid media is one of the more under-utilized forms of media, mainly because people don’t tend to understand it. While paid media refers to a range of things – from the promoted and boosted posts across social media, it also refers to any off-site advertising, which can drive traffic to your site. Pay-per-Click advertising is one example of paid media that works for businesses by turning clicks into conversions. As GrowthSupermarket states, PPC advertising now makes up around 48% of all digital marketing spend. Paid media can also be monitored and tweaked depending on what is successful. However, paid media does require money, which may not be suitable for all types of business initially.

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What is Owned Media?

Owned media has the benefit of being completely under the control of the business, as BigCommerce suggests. This refers to channels that the business controls – social media, website etc. Owned media allows content to be carefully curated and also provides a platform to ensure the message is on track with the marketing objectives. Owned media can sometimes seem clinical and lack the personality and genuineness that other forms of media achieve. Savvy social media managers will ensure that the community engagement for their channels gives added authenticity to owned media, however.

Earned media, paid media, and owned media can all be utilized across the board as part of an integrated marketing approach to media. Whether this goes down more traditional routes such as billboard advertising and TV commercials or uses social media and SERP advertising to generate a different kind of audience. While each has its benefits and drawbacks, using all three together can mitigate against any issues and ensure you are seen in the right way by the right people.