Paid, Owned or Earned Media – What’s the Difference?

There are many ways you can construct a marketing strategy. One way is by media classification – whether it’s paid, owned or earned. While some may seem more beneficial than others, it isn’t always the case when you deep dive. Here’s an overview of each media type and its pros and cons.


Paid media channels are all those where you purchase a placement from a media owner, including PPC, display advertising, syndicated emails, and sponsored or promoted social activity. It’s an excellent way of reaching new or different audiences and increasing your brand awareness. However, it comes at a price, and the more you need it to do, the higher the cost.


Owned media is the assets you’ve created in-house. Videos, brand posts, blogs and photography are just some of this type of content. These are so important to have. Many third parties who wish to promote your brand need content like this. In fact, your own website and social channels do too. Fresh, new, relevant content is highly rated in search engine algorithms, so if you want to stay on page one, someone needs to keep on top of this at all times.


Earned media is the content created by your fans, such as leaving positive reviews, sharing your content, posting their own content about your brand, likes and retweets. Eyal Gutentag, entrepreneur and performance marketing expert, believes earned media is fundamental for business growth. It’s free, it’s positive, and it gives you plenty of additional content. However, you have no control over it and it may not always paint an accurate picture of your brand. If you’re going to chase earned media, you need to manage it just as much as you would do any other channel.

A successful marketing strategy is clear, focused and measurable. The channels you use to achieve your strategy need to be flexible – if they’re too rigid to take advantage of trends or minimize risk, you need to review what you’re doing and change it.