Here at UpChannels, we help our clients with paid, owned and earned media. Today we want to delve into what these terms mean, and in what situations to use each.

Paid Media

Paid media is most often what people think of when they consider hiring a marketing agency. Relatively easy to understand, it encompasses ads you buy on an impression, click or performance basis: search, social, display or native inventory across the web.

The biggest benefit of paid media is that you are guaranteed exposure. Buying ads on CPM (cost per mille, or 1000 impressions) means you are guaranteed a certain number of people will see your advertisement. CPM campaigns can be targeted to your predefined audience, with the goal of raising awareness among that group, or with a specific performance goal, such as tracking how many of these impressions later resulted in a purchase.

Many vendors also allow you to buy traffic on a performance basis, in which they buy the ad inventory and use their own targeting logic to drive ‘actions.’ Thus these campaigns are often referred to as CPA (cost per action), which encompasses a variety of other acronyms with their own goals, such as CPI (install), CPL (lead), CPS (sale) or CPE (engagement).  

CPM campaigns are used for both top-of-funnel branding efforts and bottom-of-funnel performance campaigns, while CPA campaigns focus on the bottom-of-funnel conversions.

Owned Media

Though you have more control over the reach of your paid media, it has its shortcomings. Aside from the high cost, paid media doesn’t have a long shelf life. It can push huge gains while it is running, then results dwindle quickly after the campaign ends. If you have spent time and money getting these customers to your site, make sure you capitalize on that attention and keep them engaged.

This is where owned media comes in. It refers to your company’s web properties, including your site, blog, mobile app, or anything that is completely under your control.

Sometimes social presence is referred to as owned media, but we like to call that ‘rented.’ Your Facebook page is ‘yours,’ but it is actually the property of Facebook – it’s unlikely, but you could lose this asset at any moment. Imagine if you had put all your time and energy into building your presence on Vine!

Of course, we are not recommending you eschew any particular social network. They offer unparalleled access to their huge audiences with granular targeting data and a propensity to engage with brands through these familiar platforms. Use your social presence wisely. Don’t rely entirely on any one platform, but use all platforms where your audience is active to publicize your owned media, and drive users there.

Once users come to your site from paid media or social sharing, use a strong content strategy to engage them, build loyalty, and keep them coming back. Compelling content can extend the life of your paid campaigns, and of course remain searchable for as long as you keep the page live.

Earned Media

Probably the most effective and cost effective way to drive users to your owned media is through earned media. This could include viral content from blogs or even just a tweet, or it could be a press mention in a major newspaper. The common thread is that it comes from a third party source. It’s not sales copy. It is a factual, newsworthy event, or the unbiased opinion of someone who doesn’t stand to gain from your publicity.

Because it comes from a third party, earned media lends unmatched credibility to your message, raising awareness, building reputation and reaching a potentially wide audience who may not have ever been targeted by paid or social efforts.

Another key benefit of earned media is its benefits can last much longer than either paid or owned media. Links from news or bloggers will likely stay up for a long time and maybe never be removed. Thus, earned media lends just as much credibility to the search algorithms as it does to the human readers.

A smart marketing strategy will utilize all three forms of media mentioned above. Paid media, while costly, provides reliable and fast bump in your traffic and can deliver instant ROI. Both paid and rented media can drive traffic to your owned and earned media. Owned and earned media create credibility and search benefits. Unsure where to start? Get in touch with UpChannels to design a plan to meet your marketing goals that fits your budget.

Recommended Posts