Paid vs. Owned vs. Earned Media: What’s the Difference?

Paid media is content you pay to place in front of an audience as an ad or sponsorship, while owned and earned are free. Owned media is content you create and control, like your Facebook page or your website, while earned media is content others create about you, like reviews or Instagram posts.

But small business owners wear many hats. Marketing is likely just one of your myriad of responsibilities. Consequently, you might not be familiar with terms used in the industry like owned, earned, and paid media. But regardless of the size of your company, these ideas can be crucial for developing a marketing plan with the broadest possible appeal.

Owned – Paid – Earned (OPE) Media

What is owned media?

All content that your business or marketing team designs, develops, or produces is considered owned media. A wide variety of content styles are included in this category of media. Owned media, on the other hand, is specific to your brand and offers chances to demonstrate originality, creativity, and the capacity to set your brand apart from competitors. Your brand may have more opportunities to expand its presence in both physical and digital advertising spaces if it has more owned media. Types of owned media may include:

What is paid media?

Paid media is a tool that marketers employ to broaden the reach of a specific advertising campaign. A marketer uses paid media whenever they choose to purchase ad space, promote a social media post, or work with an affiliate marketer. Making this investment might increase the number of people who see the advertisement or the number of times a new user visits the website of your business. A few different types of paid media include:

What is earned media?

Another crucial aspect of digital and print marketing that interacts with paid and owned media strategies is earned media. It refers to any form of advertisement, promotion, or marketing that takes place unpaid. Earned media includes things like your company’s placement on a search engine’s results page. Some types of earned media include:

Paid vs. owned vs. earned media

Understanding the key differences and similarities between paid, earned, and owned media is crucial for marketing professionals. Here are a few main differences between the three types:


While each form of marketing has a cost, those costs may not be the same overall. The type of marketing you purchase affects the cost of paid media. For instance, a TV commercial might be more expensive than a newspaper ad. However, paid media isnt always the most expensive option. Owned media costs vary as well. Your business will typically pay a variable price to create content in-house, like a video or targeted digital advertisement. Despite the fact that you might not have to pay a third party, the company must still incur production costs.

Last but not least, earned media entails concentrating efforts on a target audience to raise the number of people who view your content. For instance, you might employ a public relations expert to carry out market analysis that enables your group to highlight a new target audience. The team then employs the research to generate publicity and exposure using a variety of techniques, like social media mentions or shares.


Although you can combine these media types to create a comprehensive media strategy, each one needs to be taken into account separately. For instance, when using earned media, it’s crucial to drive traffic from other sources to your owned or paid media. To help boost website traffic, your marketing team might try to produce content that has the potential to go viral on social media. It’s crucial to develop a strategy for the types of media to share on particular platforms when using paid media. Pick a paid media outlet that speaks to your target audience and has the potential for a lot of exposure.

Finally, when using owned media, think about the kinds of content that your target audience enjoys. Think of your audience as young adults who have just received their college degrees, for instance. One tactic might be to investigate the most popular social media platforms used by that demographic and create content specifically for those platforms.


Each media type has a different set of objectives depending on the specific strategies used in each one. For earned media, the main objective might be to increase website traffic for your business or to add a certain number of new social media followers. The objective of some paid media strategies may be to encourage users to interact with the owned media resources that your business has made available on its website. However, the number of viewers who view a specific piece of content or the rate at which new customers convert may be owned media strategy goals.

Tips for media planning

All three types of media—paid, owned, and earned—serve various functions in marketing strategies. However, each one is crucial to the creation of a thorough media strategy. The time you spend creating each type will depend on the specific requirements of your business, but utilizing all three could improve the efficacy of your overall strategy. Some businesses might place a higher value on paid media, while others might place a higher value on the free and owned media options. It’s best to develop a strategy that advances your business’ objectives. Here are a few other tips for media planning:


What are paid owned and earned media explain with example?

Display ads and commercials are examples of paid media. Owned media are platforms you control, such as your website. Earned media are instances in which a third party promotes your brand and/or message on your behalf, such as through a TV interview or reviews on Yelp or Google.

Is Facebook paid owned or earned media?

Without a doubt, Facebook is the foundation of earned or shared media because its users are in fact media. Facebook is clearly going all-in on paid media now in an effort to monetize its billion users and win back Wall Street’s wallets. The earned media is “owned” by the consumers, as shown in the diagram below.

Is earned or paid media better?

While a brand can obtain earned media in a variety of ways, good SEO and content strategies are the most in-control and successful. Paid media can be used to direct traffic to your owned media properties as well as to promote content to generate more earned media.

Is social media earned or owned?

Social media is usually treated as owned and earned. The justification is that brands should work to increase word-of-mouth and sharing by using their own social media channels and audiences. But don’t be fooled. Social media is not owned media.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *