Paid, owned and earned media: a framework for marketers and business leaders

by Steve Seager

Paid, owned & earned media is a model for the various media types in marketing communications. But it actually has much more value than that. It’s an incredibly useful model to start thinking strategically about your marketing communications mix on the social web.

The paid, owned & earned media framework helps marketers & business leaders understand how best to allocate resources – for the best results & understand what’s involved. So let’s take a look.

What is paid, owned and earned media?

The model first originated from Daniel Goodall in his post; owned, bought & earned media, back in 2009. Here’s the skinny:

  • Paid media is advertising based; from display Ads, paid search, sponsorship to print, TV, or any other medium.
  • Owned media is, unsurprisingly, the stuff you own; your website, mobile site, blog, brochures, .pdfs & so on
  • Earned media is basically the ‘sharing, conversation & engagement’ of your owned media that comes from your social media marketing efforts

Sweet & simple.

Forrester quickly jumped on the idea & developed the model a little more in late 2009. Their goals was to help ‘interactive’ marketers understand the new media environment since the rise of social media & networks. It’s good, but Marketing Partners swiftly plugged the gaps & took the paid, owned & earned media model one step further – as down below. It’s great. I’ll hang on while you read it. PS click on it & you get the big version.

Marketing Partners’ Paid, owned & earned media framework











So how & when should you use what?

A great way to think about it comes from this article from Kirk Cheyfitz of storyworldwide. I paraphrase;

  • Paid media (primarily advertising, whether TV, print, Radio or online) is best used to jump-start owned media
  • Owned media (your website, blog & collateral) sustains earned media
  • Earned media (the conversation & engagement you generate from sharing & publicising your owned media in social media) drives costs down & effectiveness up

Think about that for a sec. There’s some damn good advice here on how you should think about your media mix. At both business level – as well as campaign level. I’m going to write more on this & on the pros & cons of paid, earned & owned media very shortly. Meanwhile, what do you think so far? A useful model for you?

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