Paid, Owned And Earned Media: Where Should You Invest?

by Petros Kipouropoulos

The digital marketing mix consists of the same three types of media it always has; paid, owned, and earned, enabling brands to ‘speak’ to their audience and drive sales.  Over time, they have adapted into the digital cornerstones we recognise today.

At the core base level, advertising still works on the print principles from the days of yore. Today however, businesses have a multitude of ways to express themselves, rather than a corporate magazine or newspaper with limited circulation. So how should brands differentiate these types of media and combine them to drive the best results?

The effectiveness of paid media relies on targeting: the more targeted an approach is, the greater its chances to convert leads to customers. Social and online advertising platforms offer far more options in terms of targeting and segmentation, and therefore are more effective, especially in limited-budget campaigns. Through its owned channels, a company can distribute unique content that can shape and enhance its brand image, and digital presence in general. And strong earned media might be called the proof of an effective marketing strategy: as earned media comes from sources different than the company and is generally unbiased. Links coming from trusted, high-profile sites can rank highly on Google and therefore significantly benefit a company.

An Effective Media Combination

So, what type of media should a digital marketing strategy focus on? A combination of the aforementioned types is the obvious choice, although it is advisable for a company to decide the share of each one based on the campaign objectives and budget, as well as the audience demographics.

Sharing content on social media

Different types of media interact with each other, further increasing a campaign’s reach; compelling owned media can inspire additional earned opportunities, while the latter can be also attributed to a strong paid media campaign. Marketers have the task of coming up with the most effective combinations, and designing campaigns that allow each type of media to benefit from each other. KPIs of their campaign must be the lens through which the allocation decisions are made. If a brand needs to be in control of the targets being distributed to, then paid media should be their main pillar; if they seek engagement and virality, earned media is a more appropriate solution, although these channels can be unpredictable and should be used with caution.

Channel Selection

The same decision-making process also applies to channel selection. Marketers should identify the platforms their audience is using and focus on them, either by allocating budget for a paid campaign or by properly supporting earned media through an incentivised promotional opportunity. People share content that’s valuable and meaningful to them, and companies should therefore consider their earned media from the point of view of the consumer – what value, inspiration or opportunity are you offering to nurture that relationship? This can prove an important learning for paid media as well; brands need to recognise what’s important for their customers, and ‘push’ such content, otherwise they’ll be risking a campaign with satisfying reach but limited conversion.

What’s key to remember here is that although each media type can stand on its own, using them together will give you the best results and drive interest on your digital strategy. Lead generation can benefit from the cumulative impact of different types of media. Success is indissolubly tied to a company’s ability to combine its media buys and owned content in order not only to inform but also to engage users. There’s no set recipe for the marketer’s dream, but by drawing on the various capacities of these ‘converged media’ marketers can identify their customers’ whereabouts, and determine the best way to deliver their brand message. Find the combination that best suits your profile, needs and KPIs and lead your campaign to success!