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When developing an online marketing strategy for your business, you will likely have encountered the terms Owned media, Earned media, and Paid media. Depending on the nature of your business, your digital marketing strategy, and the marketing budget you are working with, you may assign each option different weights. For most businesses, however, owned and earned media are most relevant. Let us look at what each type of media means and why developing a digital strategy that blends all options is ideal.
What is Owned Media?
This forms the basis of most digital marketing plans. It refers to any unique web property or channel owned or controlled by a brand. The most common forms of owned media include the company website and social media pages on platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Official business sites are the primary web property, with social media pages and blogs acting as an extension that helps lead back to them. The stronger a presence the brand builds on these channels the more visibility is gained. All the content and its presentation is determined by the brand.
So, what is Earned Media?
This refers to the exposure that leads back to owned media sites but is not paid for. It comes from outside third parties learning about the brand and wanting to share about it. Similar to word of mouth reputation in the real world. Earned media can be found in various online forms including reviews, recommendations, rankings, mentions, shares, and reposts.
You can also see more of the same in the real world in the form of magazine or newspaper features or articles and mentions on radio or television. The online versions of these types of content can often go viral and are frequently considered more trustworthy as the opinions or marketing is not being paid for and therefore deemed authentic. And because there is no direct payment for this marketing, it also tends to provide the highest return on investment for brands.
The ranking of owned media sites can also be considered under this format. This is because the sites cannot influence ranking based on payment. It is all about the quality of content they offer, user experience, and other factors search engine algorithms independently evaluate. Because of how impactful having a high ranking on SERPs can have on driving traffic, visibility, engagement, and conversions, it is a key goal for any good SEO strategy.
The quality of content marketers put out will also have a strong impact on how well it will be received by others and inspire them to create earned media that boosts the visibility of your brand. Some content may be good enough to be shared as is through channels belonging to others. This can include content such as infographics, videos, blog posts, e-books, and tutorials.
This refers to any marketing that you pay for. The goals are similar as with owned and earned media, including boosting visibility, driving traffic and encouraging conversions. The business essentially pays for this exposure. This is primarily done through search ads and social media, such as Facebook Ads and LINE Ads. You can also pay for advertising on related sites.
This typically takes the form of display or banner ads that provide a direct means for online users to click through and arrive at owned media sites. These ads are often pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, so the businesses will typically pay for each online user that clicks through. However, with such promotions, online users are often very much aware that this is paid for advertising. It is a highly targeted form of marketing that often allows marketers to configure the type of audience that ads will appear to.
Paid media can also take the form of influencer marketing. You can tap into the visibility and viral nature of influencer content to further expand your brand’s exposure.
Influencers can often be hired to create content around products and services, helping to expand the reach and recognition of brands.
Though paid media is distinguished as being paid for publicity, all types of media require some level of investment. With your owned business websites, you will still need to pay for hosting, web design and more. While you may not directly pay for some earned media exposure, there will likely be some content that is shared and came from your brand, which you will have paid for. Therefore, with each form of media requiring some level of investment, it is vital to ensure you are getting a good return.
A good digital media strategy includes plans for content that can be shared across the different media channels. Being able to have developed shared across multiple channels helps provide maximum visibility for the brand and more opportunities to drive traffic to owned media sites and convert them. It is all part of the multipronged approach to marketing.
It is however not unusual to find some businesses having no or limited use of paid media. Its use will often be tied to the marketing budget allowed. However, there can be a good return made through paid marketing, hence its commonplace inclusion in many businesses digital marketing strategies.
Brands will often use tools like content distribution matrixes to try and assess the effectiveness and return that each form of media provides. This kind of evaluation helps gauge where the best return on investment is being made and will better guide future marketing plans.
Whatever mix of media you use, you need to try and include all of them. When used in combination, the results are more amplified than if you focus on just one or two options. Marketers can reach a much wider audience, providing greater value from the investment in marketing.
While smaller businesses may not have as larger a budget to devote to paid media, they should still invest well in owned and earned media as they grow towards later incorporating paid media more. With time, businesses that invest in all media options can better refine their marketing efforts so that the budgetary allocations they make result in the best value for money for their brand.