When we talk to entrepreneurs, there is often a misunderstanding about the difference between earned, owned and advertised media. Let’s start with ‘earned’ (unpaid) media and advertising media. Both serve different purposes and have different levels of credibility.
Earned media refers to coverage or mentions that a brand or product receives through public relations efforts, word-of-mouth or organic sharing on social media. This can include news articles, reviews, social media mentions, influencer endorsements and more.
A company ‘earns’ this media because its brand did something newsworthy or noteworthy that got people talking. This can be the result of working with influencers for free or PR activities (publication of a media release, shared posts by advocates or reviews of your overall business or products).
The most significant benefit of earned media is that it helps you build trust with your target stakeholders. When a journalist includes your company or quotes the CEO of your company in an article, it legitimizes your business for existing and prospective clients.
When it comes to credibility, earned media generally carries more trust and credibility than advertising. This is because earned media is perceived as more impartial and unbiased, as it is often generated by third-party sources such as journalists, influencers or regular people sharing their experiences. Consumers tend to see these endorsements as more authentic and independent. However, it is essential to note that the credibility of earned media may vary depending on the source. It’s crucial to consider the reputation and trustworthiness of the publication, journalist or influencer providing the coverage or endorsement.
Advertised media is paid media where companies promote their products or services through print, radio, television, social media, print, online banners and other sponsored content. While advertising can effectively reach a larger audience and communicate specific messages, it is known that advertisers have a vested interest in presenting their offerings in the best possible light. The Edelman Trust Barometer conducted in 2022 reported that only 8% of 36,000 respondents worldwide assume the information in ads is valid.
Conversely, advertising is created and controlled by the brand itself, aiming to promote its products or services. While advertising can effectively reach a larger audience and communicate specific messages, it is known that advertisers have a vested interest in presenting their offerings in the best possible light.
The other type of media, owned media, is often mistaken for earned media. Unlike earned media, owned media is created by your business. Owned media channels include your website, content marketing, organic social media posts, email marketing assets, etc.
The main characteristic of owned media is that the company has complete control over the content, messaging and distribution. They can tailor the content to their audience, choose the format and frequency of communication, and have complete authority over the branding and advertising. Owned media allows organizations to establish unique identities, engage directly with their audience and build long-term relationships.
Compared to earned media or paid media, owned media is more cost-effective in the long run, as the entity does not have to pay for every exposure or engagement. However, it also requires consistent effort to create engaging and valuable content, optimize platforms and maintain audience interest.
Overall, owned media plays a crucial role in a digital marketing strategy, complementing earned and paid media efforts. It helps establish brand authority, cultivate customer loyalty and drive traffic and conversions.