Have you ever heard the terms ‘earned media’ and ‘paid media’ being thrown around but not really felt clear on the difference? We’ve put together a crash course on how to recognise which is which and how it can add value to your brand and overall marketing strategy.


Earned Media = ‘Free’ Media

Earned media can be thought of as the modern ‘word of mouth’, but to get people talking you need to give them something to talk about – that’s where the ‘earned’ part comes in.

Some examples of earned media are:

  • Social Media Shares
  • Media Coverage (Traditional and Digital)
  • Search
  • Reviews

One of the main benefits of earned media is authenticity. Hearing from an independent third party about the benefits of your service, or the quality of your product, increases someone’s trust in the message and brand. Earned media also allows you to reach a wider or larger audience in a more cost effective manner.

The drawback is the length of time it takes to leverage earned media – it should be viewed as a long term investment rather than a quick win.


Paid Media

Paid media is – you guessed it – placement which you pay for. One of the key upsides to paid media is that you have complete control over the messaging and placement.

Examples of paid media include:

  • Social Media Advertising
  • Traditional Advertising
  • Search Engine Marketing

Another benefit of paid media is that the results are much quicker than that of earned media. An example of this is comparing SEO to SEM, which can both be effective tools when executed correctly. When you first begin SEO, it can take months to build up your website’s credibility with Google and earn the coveted first page spot. When using SEM, you will see your ad almost instantly.

Like anything, there are drawbacks to paid media as well – it must be clearly disclosed as paid advertising, which can be deemed untrustworthy by skeptical viewers or ignored altogether. It can also be much more expensive, particularly for competitive search terms and some traditional advertising platforms like television. Paid media should complement earned media and function as a valuable part of your overall strategy, not just a quick fix of attention for your brand.

Could you benefit from strategic support? Contact us today to see what we could do for you.