In the landscape of the digital age, we all know how crucial digital advertising is to a well-rounded, successful campaign. Many people, when asked if they do digital advertising, will respond, “Yes, we have a Facebook page.” While social media is another (ridiculously) important marketing tool, social media isn’t actually digital advertising, unless you’re paying for it (i.e. those promoted posts or tweets that like to pop up in the middle of your feed).
Earned vs. Owned vs. Paid
To better understand the difference between social media like Facebook and true digital advertising, it’s important to know the difference between earned, owned and paid media.
Earned media is when you are able to get publicity without paying for it. Let’s say your company just opened its doors and the local news station is there to cover the event. You didn’t pay for them to come cover the event; it just happens to be newsworthy information. This way, you are essentially getting free publicity. In the digital realm, this would look like shared posts, mentions or reviews. Another benefit of earned media is that it is unbiased. Consumers feel like they can trust it more, which builds trust in your brand.
Owned media is media you directly control. Websites are a good example of owned media as are blogs and other forms social media. You have the power to say what stays and what goes. The great thing about digital, owned media is that you can directly connect with your consumers. We live in an age where people want to feel more closely connected to the things they love. Owned media allows this to happen.
Then, you have paid media. Paid media falls under the category of what we call advertising, which means it is media you pay for. Paid media takes many different forms. You can pay for traditional advertising media like television, radio, outdoor or print. You can also do digital advertising like geofencing, retargeting, display ads and social media ads. There are a wide variety of possibilities and strategies to be used. You can even pay influential figures to promote your product. For example, let’s say you build fishing lures. You could find someone on YouTube with influence in the fishing market who can discuss and rate your lures. Good ratings mean more potential consumers. Makeup is one product that utilizes this strategy.
Why do I need all three?
In honor of March Madness, let us use this analogy. Think of a basketball player who only has the ability to shoot. He can’t pass or dribble, only shoot. He’s not going to be a very successful player. The defense just has to stand close enough to him to prevent him from shooting with no worry about passing or dribbling. He can’t move, meaning he’s not very useful to his team. Using owned, earned and paid media in advertising is like that. Having a variety of strategies gives you multiple avenues of attack. You can get free, unbiased publicity with earned media, increase your reach with paid media and connect with your consumers on owned media, making you a marketing and advertising triple threat.