What is a Media?
Remember when people used to learn about things like upcoming events, the latest trends, and cool new products pretty much exclusively from magazines, newspapers, and TV shows?
These publications and broadcasts are where brands used to get all their earned media. But with the advent of digital marketing and social media, earned media has evolved - and departments other than public relations, like marketing and customer support, now share a chunk of the responsibility.
To make sure you're caught up on this "Web 2.0" version of an old-school term, let's dive into what earned media means today and how you can use it in your marketing.
What Is Earned Media?
Earned media is any publicity you haven't paid for that's owned and created by a third party. Earned media is now that customer tweet about "the best brunch EVER!" at a particular restaurant that got several retweets and favorites. It's also that horrible Yelp review. And it's that technology blogger's "Top 10 Apps of The Year" roundup that was viewed and shared by thousands. And it's still traditional media sources like magazines and newspapers, although those audiences have been steadily declining.
What earned media isn't: Publicity you pay for or own. When a company pays a publication to write a glowing article about them, for example, that's not an example of paying for earned media - that's just paid media. And when you write a blog post for your company blog about your latest product release, that's not earned media - that's owned media. The distinctions are fairly clear between these camps, but they're important for any marketer to know.
What Differentiates Earned Media From Paid and Owned Media?
You may have heard of earned media as compared with paid media and owned media. Here's the difference between the three.
Paid media refers to the advertising your company pays for. This includes paid social media (like Facebook ads and promoted tweets), paid influencers, pay-per-click (PPC), retargeting, affiliates, and native advertising.
The lines between earned and paid media can blur at times. Take viral videos, for example. A video doesn't just go viral by accident - most of the time, there is a lot of careful planning involved to kick start the video's exposure with paid media, and at some point the paid media stops once earned media picks up.
Owned media means the channels your brand controls, such as your website, mobile site, blog, email, and social channels.
Lines often get blurred between earned and owned media as well. A blog post you write about original industry research, for example, could get picked up by other bloggers and media outlets. So while earned media isn't always a direct result of owned media, owned media can help you get more attention from third parties.
The key to understanding the difference between the three is this: Unlike paid and owned media, earned media isn't controlled by brands, which makes it less biased and more trusted.