Navigating the Digital Marketing Trinity: Earned, Owned, and Paid Media

Alex Greenwood
2 min readJul 20, 2023

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital marketing, three pivotal forms of media — earned, owned, and paid — stand central. Today, we’ll break down these types, each essential to a comprehensive marketing strategy.

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Our first stop is the waters of earned media. Picture your customers, so enamored with your services that they rave about it on social media. Or an influential industry leader who sings the praises of your product. Maybe even a journalist who includes you in a feature about the top companies in your sector. These are all instances of earned media.

Earned media encompasses all the attention you garner through promotional efforts not directly paid for. This can include social media mentions, customer reviews, blog articles, industry features — all these organic recognitions for your brand fall under earned media. The power of earned media lies in its ability to foster trust and credibility, acting much like a personal recommendation in a digital form.

Next, we explore owned media — your brand’s digital real estate. This is any web property that you can control and that is unique to your brand, including your website, blogs, newsletters (Medium or Substack, anyone?), social media profiles, and brochures. With owned media, you’re at the helm, controlling your brand’s narrative — what’s published, when it’s published, and how it’s disseminated. It is through these channels that you engage directly with your audience, providing value, and cultivating lasting relationships.

Our final destination is the realm of paid media. This is publicity you pay for, such as pay-per-click ads, display ads, social media ads, sponsored posts, or any other form of paid advertising. While it requires a financial investment, paid media is an effective way to promote content, extend your reach, and convey your message to a broader audience.

Each form of media — earned, owned, and paid — plays a crucial role in a balanced marketing strategy. Owned media lets you control your brand’s narrative, earned media lends authenticity and public endorsement, while paid media ensures you reach a broader audience precisely and promptly.

As you continue your journey into the world of marketing, keep this trinity in mind. The interplay between earned, owned, and paid media forms the bedrock of a robust and well-rounded digital marketing strategy.

Stay tuned for our next post, where we’ll delve deeper into how to seamlessly integrate these forms into your marketing strategy.

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Alex Greenwood

PR Consultant, Speaker, Podcast Producer/Host, Editor, and Award-Winning Writer of the John Pilate Mystery Series. Accomplished belly laugher.