What is Paid, Owned and Earned Media?

  • Paid Media is any communications media “space” that you have to buy from a media owner. Typically this would include TV, outdoor, press and magazines, cinema, radio and third party DM and email lists. It also includes all paid digital activity, whether that paid display, search or social media. It excludes things like SEO which are paid for by fees, but which do not involve the purchase of media assets from a media owner.
  • Owned media is any communication space or opportunity that is owned by a company or brand. The best examples are websites, retail space and shop fronts, product packaging, catalogues or even things like truck and van sides. Your own customer list is owned media. Your own pages or channels on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube are also part of your owned media portfolio.
  • Earned media is generally comments and reviews that are created and posted by third parties. Great reviews on Trustpilot or Amazon would be examples of earned media coverage. But so would bad reviews. Such reviews occupy space in a media sense, but they are not created or owned or by the brand itself.

The dynamic of control in Paid, Owned and Earned media

Paid media is the most controllable – you can control when it runs, where it runs and the message that is carried. Owned media is also controllable – these are your assets so you can determine how they are used and the messages carried. Earned media is different. Earned media is often owned and created by people outside your company. This means control is much more difficult. In some ways, earned medias is where your brand is laid bare – warts and all.

Author: Simon Foster

Simon Foster MA FIDM Media training specialist helping marketers get more from media agencies