Owned, Earned, and Paid Media: Everything You Need to Know

In the world of digital marketing, there are three key types of media to know: owned, earned, and paid. Understanding the differences between these three types of media, as well as how they work together, is crucial for any business looking to develop a comprehensive online marketing strategy. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about these media types, look no further! 

In this blog post, we'll dive into the world of owned, earned, and paid media, exploring what each type of media is, how they differ, and how businesses can use them to maximize their marketing efforts and achieve their goals. 

What are Owned, Earned, and Paid media?

Owned Media 

You might be able to guess what owned media refers to– it’s any content that your business owns and has full control over. This typically includes things like your company website, email list, logo, and blog content. 

Earned Media 

Earned media is different than owned media in that it’s generated from the publicity and coverage your business might get online or otherwise. This could include things like media coverage, online reviews, social media sharing, or even word of mouth. These are all forms of unpaid promotion that work to increase the visibility of your brand. 

Paid Media 

Paid media refers to promotional and advertorial content that a business pays for. This can be in the form of Google Ads, social media ads, influencer product placements, or simply sponsored content. 

Pros and Cons 

Pros and Cons 

Owned media comes with several key advantages. Because your company has control over this type of content, it can be designed, distributed, and utilized how you’d like. There are long-term benefits to having full control over your own media, as it could continue to attract and engage customers for as long as you’d like. It can also sometimes be cost-effective when compared to paid media options. 

Yet, owned media only has a certain reach. While it’s great for engaging with existing customers or potential leads, it may be hard to target brand-new customers who aren’t familiar with the business yet. It’s also hard to scale owned media– you can only create and distribute so much content on your own. Perhaps the biggest flaw of owned media content is that it’s extremely time-consuming. 

Creating high-quality media requires time, resources, and expertise, which can be a challenge for businesses with limited staff or budgets. Anyone who has ever tried to research, plan, and record a viral TikTok knows just how time-consuming it can be! 

Earned media, on the other hand, can be both cost- and time-effective. Because it is essentially free, it costs nothing to your business and still increases your visibility. If you’ve done nothing to encourage or procure the earned media coverage, it’s a time-saver as well! 

Earned media can signify brand credibility and trustworthiness to potential customers, as it comes from a third-party source. Satisfied customers, industry experts, and media outlets can be some of your best content creators in this way. 

Yet earned media comes with a price– it’s not always positive. It’s unpredictable, as it’s not directly controlled by your business, and it may not align with your main messaging or brand goals. You can’t control the tone of the message, which may influence your ability to reuse it again and again. Plus, if you aren’t gaining earned media naturally, you’ll have to spend time forming relationships with journalists and influencers. This can be time-consuming, and may not always result in the exact media coverage you seek. 

Paid media can be attractive, in this regard. It’s targeted, scalable, and adaptable to the exact needs and goals of your marketing strategy. It allows for the flexibility and control of owned media, without your business actually having to create the content. 

One of the biggest advantages of paid media campaigns is their ability to be tracked and measured, so that companies can fully understand whether they are achieving a return on their investment and adapt accordingly. You can target specific demographics and usually end up with a content campaign that is exactly what you were looking for. 

The disadvantages of paid media might be obvious. They can get expensive for companies with limited budgets and don’t always work out as hoped. Paid media campaigns also lack the credibility and authenticity that owned and earned media might elicit. Ad fatigue is real, and you don’t want to overwhelm potential customers with tons of content to the point they become disengaged. 

Which media type is best for your business?

Which media type is best for your business?

When deciding which sort of media is best for your business, you’ll want to evaluate the goals, budget, and target audience of your brand. You’ll also want to check out what competitors in your industry are doing, and what media type suits the tone and overall marketing image you’re hoping to create. In general, a balanced approach including a little bit of all three types of media is the most effective choice. 

For example, if you’re a small business hoping to maintain a down-to-earth, relaxed, and transparent image, earned media through influencer partnerships would work effectively for you. Paid media partnerships through user-generated content deals may also help to promote your image. Of course, owned media can be a great place to start while your small business is just starting out and budgets may be limited. 


Alternatively, if you’re a large, well-known, multinational conglomerate, you may want to communicate a more polished and professional image. In this case, paid media partnerships will allow you to design, own, and control the content you’re putting out. 

Paid media is important here because it allows your business to target specific audiences and achieve measurable results quickly. By investing in targeted ads and promotional content, your business can increase its visibility, drive traffic to its website, and generate leads, all while maintaining complete control of your brand’s image and tone. 

Click Mentality offers a plethora of paid media services that can be tailored to the needs of your digital marketing strategy and campaigns. Experienced in everything from social media marketing to content creation, our team is focused on engaging with your existing online community and growing it even larger. If you’re interested in transforming your brand’s paid media content to keep leads flowing and increase sales, let’s get started.