Paid, Owned and Earned Media: Definition, Audience and Features

paid owned earned media

Content promotion is dependent upon 3 primary channels – paid media, owned media and earned media.

Although these types of media aren’t new, it’s the prominence of and approach to owned and earned media which has changed, challenging the more traditional paid media. Pamela Bustard, The Media Octopus

Paid, Owned and Earned Media Definitions

According to The Media Octopus, the definitions are:

  • Paid Media – Anything that is paid for to drive traffic to owned media properties; you pay to boost your exposure through the channel.
  • Owned Media – Any communication channel or platform that belongs to your brand that you create and have control over.
  • Earned Media – When people speak about and share your brand and your product, either in response to content you've shared or via voluntary mentions. It's free publicity generated by fans.

I would add that there's often overlap between the strategies. We often kick off an earned media campaign by getting some mass distribution through paid resources. The paid media sources introduce the content, but then other owned media sources pick it up and earn many more mentions through social channels.


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