Paid, Earned, Or Owned Media: What Really Matters

Blog posts and webinars are proliferating about the distinctions between paid, earned and owned media. Some are calling it the “new PEO model”; an interesting twist came from one self-proclaimed earned media provider who offered a $5 iTunes cards to people completing its survey about PEO (begging the question as to whether the survey results could be considered paid vs. earned….what do you think?).

The lines between the two are indeed blurry. Technically they’re defined as:

But Grant Owens of agency Razorfish rightly points out in Mashable the significant overlap between these three, using a branded YouTube channel as an example that can fit into any of these categories.  The channel could be considered:

However the media is generated, in some way it will bear a cost to a brand. For example, social media requires cultivation and someone from your firm needs to be shepherding that to ensure it brings value to your brand. But your brand needs recognition to start with, which may be better attained through a paid ad.

Agency executive Curtis Hougland reminds us that social media is “not a vertical like advertising or PR,” but rather constitutes “a horizontal layer that wants to touch every part of your business” spanning from customer acquisition, service and retention. 

We recently saw this interplay in our recent work with a soon-to-be-launched health and beauty fan page. While part of our campaign leveraged earned media through the use of a social sweepstakes (where participants referred their friends to enter), we augmented this through the placement of paid ads on Facebook aimed at the site’s core demographic targets.

The hybrid model worked: not only did we acquire 15,000 new fans to the brand page, but we also added over 10,000 email opt-ins to our client’s email distribution list.  Earned and paid played together quite nicely.

The takeaway? Work out a mix to get the most from all of your media. The best results come when marketers fold social and earned media into a broader strategy, the different approaches build a stronger value proposition to marketers.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized