Deciphering the “earned or paid” media dilemma

By Anandita Gupta

Even as the modern media landscape evolves to go beyond the boundaries of the physical world and embrace an almost ubiquitous virtual universe of the 21st century, the touchpoints of consumer engagement and the way brands interact with their stakeholders are dynamically evolving. With the rise of social media influencers, keywords, SEO and the digital media ecosystem (with algorithms and AI), the traditional means of promotions and PR ATL and BTL are all being redefined. However, from a brand perspective, the debate continues to rage around the age-old deserved “Vs”. paid media engagement, and the need to understand that is now even greater than ever!

Let’s start by understanding some simple definitions:

Organic media is any marketing approach where you don’t spend money on advertising — and it has two parts:

  1. Owned media, or any media that a brand owns and is not obligated to pay for basic usage. Blogs, social networks and web pages are examples of common channels.
  2. Earned Media is digital word of mouth supported by mentions, shares, reposts, reviews or other content curated by a third-party publisher.

The Benefits of Proprietary Media

  1. Builds relationships with prospects and customers: Readers can simply view and share useful material on your website.
  2. Profitable: Proprietary content generates three times more leads per dollar spent than sponsored search.
  3. Adaptable: Proprietary media can be any combination of material your audience chooses, allowing teams the flexibility to try out new types without spending money.

The Benefits of Earned Media

  1. Of confidence: It’s no surprise that sponsored ads are less credible than earned ones. In fact, viewers rate earned media as the most authentic type of promotion.
  2. Reason for buying: Prospects worldwide prefer word-of-mouth (64%) and customer referrals (49%) to news articles and salespeople when making enterprise software purchasing decisions.
  3. Transparent: Earned media is more authentic than purchased or owned media because it is provided voluntarily by customers.

paid media, on the other hand, refers to any marketing strategy that involves paying to promote content on a third-party channel. Search, social, display, PPC, native and other channels are common.

Paid media starts with deciding what action you want a viewer to take. In its most basic form, paid media drives people to unpaid media with a specific goal in mind. Examples of paid promotion include content promotion, retargeting ads, and native advertising, all of which can drive earned media, improve awareness/traffic, and drive revenue.

The Benefits of Paid Media

  1. Paid Media Has Instant Effects: Once you’ve paid for placement, your content will reach more readers faster.
  2. It’s scalable: Due to the low cost and high efficiency of social media platforms, you can reach as many or as few people as your budget allows.
  3. You have full control over paid media: You have complete authority over your content.

Now, as the range of paid and earned media merges, brands no longer have a delineated choice that can help them succeed. Instead, they should be open to a mix of collaborative, earned, and paid media for impactful brand building. Brands and marketers must now review their approach to the market and change the way they generate and market information to stakeholders. Successfully exploring potential paid channels requires focusing on content with a virulence factor or messages that can strategically direct consumers to owned media touchpoints.

For best impact, crafting a well-balanced media plan that includes earned, owned, and paid media is key. Here are some ideas for a well-thought-out strategy:

  • Determine the objective of your campaign: Your objective determines where you will spend your paid media budget.
  • Create well-researched and valuable material to promote: Figure out which topics in your niche are performing well, their structure, and the keywords your target audience is using to find them.
  • Start small and spend more on what works: Run campaigns for at least 2-3 months to better understand what helps you achieve your goals and what you can get rid of.
  • Paid media should be used to supplement owned and earned media: A high-performing post not only drives organic growth, but it can also act as an intriguing paid ad. This can help prospects and influencers receive highly personalized material faster.

Due to the evolution of paid and organic media, companies need to reconsider how and what content they will promote. Due to the aforementioned variables, simple organic content is unlikely to help improve exposure, mentions, and revenue. If you want to generate interest in your product or service, you need to increase paid spend in a lucrative and accessible way.

The author is co-founder, Scenic Communication

follow us on Twitter, instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook

Daniel C. Williams