Definitions: Paid, Owned and Earned Media

Paid, Owned and Earned media is a way of defining different types of marketing channels in your strategy.

But, what are these terms? Why are they important to your marketing strategy?

Paid Media

Paid Media is when you exchange money for advertising.

This includes channels like:

  • Social Media Advertising
  • PPC, billboards
  • Radio ad spots
  • TV ad spots
  • Sponsorships

How To Measure Paid Media?

Paid media from online channels can be tracked in their internal analytics and your website analytics.

You can see the sales coming through from each campaign using UTM tags, Google Analytics Enhanced Ecommerce or dedicated landing pages for each ad set.

Owned Media

Owned media is where you have a channel you have control over.

These channels include:

  • Your website
  • Your email list
  • Facebook pages
  • YouTube pages
  • Twitter pages

Note: While social media channels are technically owned media, they aren’t technically yours. Never build your house on rented ground. If you are building a community on social media, make every effort to get them onto your mailing list or website.

If Facebook decides to shut down your page, there is nothing you can do to recover it and the audience you’ve cultivated will be gone. However, if most of your Facebook fans are also on your mailing list, rebuilding your community on Facebook will be much easier.

How To Measure Owned Media?

Most owned media platforms will have their own analytics software.

For a website, you have Google Analytics and premium analytics software to help monitor your website. These analytics platforms can help you track customer journeys, sales and more.

Social media accounts have their own analytics platforms too. There’s Facebook Insights, Twitter Analytics, Pinterest Analytics, and so on. These can help you track the engagement of your posts, your follower growth and the clicks on your posts. You can then use your website analytics software to track the sales from social media.

Earned Media

Earned media is the conversation around your brand.

This includes:

  • Guest posting
  • Press coverage
  • Reviews
  • Tagged social media posts

How To Measure Earned Media?

Earned media is a little more tricky to track.

You can use brand monitoring software (such as SEMrush or Brandwatch) to find mentions of your brand online.

If you are doing manual outreach, you should aim to keep a log of each influencer or brand mention you find, and the traffic it brings to your site or the followers it brings to your social pages.

What Should You Work On First?  

When starting a marketing strategy, it’s best to started with your owned media, then Paid and then Earned.

Starting with owned media allows you to build a “base of operations” for your marketing efforts.

Your goal with your marketing efforts should be for a person to buy a product or fill a lead capture form. Therefore, getting those funnels in place is key.

Creating your website and email list should be your first priority. Then you should begin to create the platforms that will drive traffic to those sites, such as a Facebook page or YouTube account.

Once you have a solid strategy for your owned media, you can look at your paid media.

Paid media becomes your way to grow your owned media. It might be cultivating an audience on social media, growing your email list or getting direct sales.

As your brand awareness grows, your earned media will grow. Creating relationships with industry influencers and growing brand evangelists will help you cultivate your audience.

Do I Need To Cover Paid, Owned Or Earned In My Campaign?


Paid, owned and earned media work best when combined into a campaign.

Your owned media is brilliant for cultivating fans, which leads to long-term sales success. Bringing your audience to your social media page and email allows you to speak to your audience in a human way. You can develop relationships between your fans and your brand. You can turn your fans into brand evangelists, and they can help spread the word (Earned Media).

You can use paid media for short term sales and to help close sales with retargeting. With paid media, you are paying for every interaction, but it will bring in sales with a better return on investment.

Earned media is your word-of-mouth, which is still the most effective marketing channel. But, referrals and reviews don’t happen on their own. You need to build up a brand name and a reputation through working with influencers and review sites. You might need a PR agency or internal Influencer Manager to help you out.

As you create happy customers, the reviews, videos, blogs and PR pieces will flow.

If you need help creating your paid, owned and earned media, book a call with us today!