Paid Owned Earned Media

Paid, Earned, Owned Media - How to set yourself up well and use them correctly

Do you want to reach your target group and ensure that your content achieves the widest possible reach? Then you have a number of channels and platforms at your disposal. In this article, I'll give you an overview - from your own website to social media and paid ads.

I sort the distribution channels into three categories: Paid, Earned and Owned Media. I'll give you the definition of owned, paid and earned media, show you examples and discuss the advantages and disadvantages. Last but not least, we'll take a look at how it all works together.

Owned Media: The in-house basis for your content distribution

Owned Media Definition

Owned media are all channels and platforms where you determine what you publish yourself. They are the foundation of your content distribution.

Owned media examples

The following are common examples of owned media channels:

  • Own website
  • Corporate blog or magazine
  • Newsletter
  • Social media profiles

I will introduce you to the individual channels in more detail below.

Own website

Let's be clear right away: Having your own website is by no means essential for every company or organization. Small, local businesses may prefer to rely on social media platforms such as Instagram or Facebook. The important thing is that your online presence has a scope that suits you and your situation. By this I mean: If you only have limited human and financial resources, it is better to concentrate on a simple site that combines all the important information. If you have more resources or if site itself is part of your business model, the content becomes correspondingly more important. In short: nothing beats your own website if you can manage it in terms of resources. Think of an online store, for example.

For content to work well on your website, you need the following prerequisites, among others:

  • Excellent usability on mobile devices (now a standard criterion for a high Google ranking)
  • Fast loading times (compromise between design and performance)
  • User-friendliness (sensible structure, short click path to the most important information, accessibility through contrasts, alt texts for images, etc.)
  • Consideration of SEO basics (e.g. through XML sitemap, meaningful titles, a logical structure, targeted internal linking)
  • Clear goals and call-to-actions per content or subpage 

Corporate blog or magazine

For certain content, a corporate blog or magazine on your own website can also be a central point of contact for interesting, relevant and helpful content. These posts ideally appeal to your intended target group and inspire trust. The content from a corporate magazine can also be used in social media and email marketing. 

However, assess as precisely as possible in advance whether you have the human and financial resources to maintain such an offering. After all, few things are more dismal than a blog where the latest post is two years old.

When selecting and implementing topics, also pay attention to how this content should be discovered - keyword search engine optimization. Keywords and central questions must be researched in advance and integrated into the post in a meaningful way. All in all, there are a few steps to follow to create your perfect blog post.


Another valuable measure for content distribution is the newsletter. In principle, a newsletter should address the interests and needs of the readership and only serve the company secondarily. Make sure that the added value of your emails is clear to potential readers even before they subscribe.

Then make sure that your newsletter is published regularly and matches the interests of the recipients.

As with the website and blog, you are in control of what you publish, when and how. However, you are not dependent on an algorithm deeming your content important enough to show it to your readership. As long as your emails don't end up in spam and are interesting and relevant enough, you will reach your subscribers.

The 10 most popular newsletter tools in comparison

If you want to send newsletters, you need a suitable newsletter tool. In this article, we would like to explain what you should definitely look out for in a newsletter software. We will also present what we consider to be the ten best tools.

Social media profiles

Your company profiles on social networks also fall under owned media - but with important restrictions. You decide for yourself what you publish. However, the platform's algorithm decides which people get to see this content (and when). You also have to make do with the functions and options provided by the platform. Last but not least, you must adhere to the terms of use and other guidelines.

As you do not own your presence here, the social web is also referred to as "rented media". So it's more like a rented apartment, while your own website is your house. 

Ask yourself the following questions when choosing channels:

  • Where is your target group to be found?
  • On which channels does your target group expect which content and where are they receptive to your messages?

To ensure that content spreads better on the social web, you should keep an eye on the following points, among others:

  • Clear and appealing profile: use all available functions if possible (e.g. cover photo, avatar picture, self-description)
  • Informative description text: users clarifies what you can expect here
  • Good mix of promotional and informative content (e.g. depending on the company, industry and target group, also provide a "look behind the scenes")
  • Show your face: People prefer to follow people rather than faceless brands and products
  • Interaction with fans and followers in a positive atmosphere
  • Consider trends and experiment with new functions, as these are often played out more strongly and prominently to the user base and thus potentially achieve more reach: What kind of posts are currently popular on the respective platform?

Owned media advantages and disadvantages

What are the advantages of owned media channels?

  • Freedom of design and control: you can do what you want within the framework of the legal regulations (layout, structure)
  • Freedom to decide when and where to publish
  • Building long-term customer relationships

What are the disadvantages of owned media channels?

  • Regular, high effort in the creation and maintenance of content (time and resources)

The 6 most important levers in content marketing

In this article, we explain how to take your content marketing to the next level. From content strategy, topic identification and content interlinking to measuring your measures.

Earned media: Multipliers and recommendations

Earned Media Definition

Earned media includes content about your company and your offers that you do not initiate yourself. On the contrary: you "earn" these posts through your work. Ultimately, you can encourage them, but you cannot control them one hundred percent.

In terms of content distribution, this means, for example, that a person recommends one of your posts to their own network. If this person belongs to the category of multipliers (influencers), this can increase your reach enormously. However, it doesn't always have to be socialusers with lots of followers. Every share can have a positive effect.

Earned media success criteria

In order for your content to be shared, some preparatory work is necessary. You should pay particular attention to these three aspects:

  • Content quality
  • Shareability
  • Networking/Influencer Relations

Content quality

For your content to be shared, it should be so unique, relevant and useful that people are happy to recommend it to others. You therefore need to do your homework here in terms of finding topics and implementing content. Last but not least, this includes preparing your content in an appealing and supportive way, for example with photos, infographics or videos.


If the content quality is right, make it easy for your readers to share your content. This includes share buttons on your website. These can be implemented as privacy-friendly links that call up the editor for a new post on the respective social network and are already filled with important elements such as the link.

Quotes or graphics that can be shared with one click are also a good idea. Make sure that such elements are appropriately designed. For example, a quote should not be longer than a post on short message platforms such as Threads or Mastodon.

At the same time, remember that your users not only share something publicly, but also use messengers such as WhatsApp or email.

In general, make sure that your content is displayed correctly when sharing. An illustrative image as an eye-catcher is particularly important here.

Networking/Influencer Relations

If there are important influencers in your subject area, it can be a good idea to build a relationship with them. This is similar to press relations. So it's not about payment, that would be influencer marketing (see below).

Instead, you want to make sure that important people know you and your company. As soon as you have well-crafted, unique content, inform them. Ideally, you should involve them in advance. The more important the person is, the more you should think about offering them something exclusive.

Incidentally, importance is not only measured by the number of followers. It is more important that this person reaches the right people and has a good reputation in the industry.

Earned media examples

Common examples of earned media channels are as follows:

  • Customer reviews on online platforms
  • Testimonials in blogs or forums
  • Recommendations through influencers
  • Word of mouth
  • If applicable, own guest contributions, interviews and quotes (e.g. journalists often look for people who take a stand on a current topic)

Earned media advantages and disadvantages

What are the advantages of earned media channels?

  • High credibility with potential customers
  • Potentially high reach and awareness of your company
  • No costs

What are the disadvantages of earned media channels?

  • Little to no controllability (risk of negative statements)
  • Hardly any monitoring possible
  • Effort in building and maintaining strategic relationships

Paid Media Definition

Paid media includes all publications that you pay for. These can be ads, sponsored posts or influencer marketing.

Ideally, you would like all your content to spread all by itself. However, given the oversupply of content, this is not always realistic. Paid media is therefore a good way to get things started.

Some examples of possible objectives:

  • Increase reach and traffic: Paid media can help increase the visibility of your content and drive more visitors to your website or landing page. This is particularly useful for new content or content that is difficult to find organically. This is the case, for example, if you are covering a topic that is so brand new that it is hardly or not at all searched for.
  • Address target groups directly: With paid media, you can define your target audience very precisely and target your ads to reach the people who are most likely to be interested in your content.
  • Fuel earned and owned media: Paid media can also help to support your earned and owned media activities. For example, you can use paid ads to gain more followers for your social media channels or increase the number of newsletter subscribers.

Get started with your first Google Ads campaign

Do you want to advertise your product or service with Google Ads but don't know how to get started? No problem, in this article about Google Ads we explain step by step how to set up your first campaign and reach your target group with Google advertising.

Paid media examples

Common examples of paid media channels are as follows:

  • Google Ads
  • social media ads
  • Native advertising
  • Influencer marketing

I will introduce you to the individual channels in more detail below.

Google Ads

Google Ads is certainly one of the best-known platforms for advertising on the Internet. Here you can reach people who are specifically searching for something, as well as place ads on websites with suitable content. You can use various ad formats for this. Relevant in our context are

  • Text ads: They appear in Google's search results for defined keywords. They are therefore an effective way to reach people who are actively searching for specific information, products or services. You can advertise your guidebook, white paper or explanatory article here, for example. 
  • Display ads: These ads appear on a variety of websites that are part of the Google Display Network and can include images or even interactive elements instead of text. They are suitable for increasing brand awareness and directing users to your website. Appealing display ads are a great way to attract visitors.
  • Video ads: You place this type of ad on YouTube videos. This can be useful, as the video platform is also used as a visual search tool. And you can reach people who are interested in topics that are relevant to you.

Social Media Ads

In addition to Google Ads, the major social media platforms also offer a wide range of options for paid advertising. Each platform has its own strengths and special features that you should take into account when selecting your advertising channels.

  • Facebook Ads: You can use various ad formats - including images, videos, carousels and stories. You can also use Facebook Ads to narrow down your target group according to interests, demographics, behavior and other criteria.
  • LinkedIn Ads: If you want to address a B2B target group, LinkedIn Ads is a suitable platform. Here you can target your ads to specific industries, job titles, company sizes and other professional characteristics. Ad formats include text ads, sponsored content and InMail messages.
  • Instagram Ads: Instagram is particularly suitable for reaching a younger, visually oriented target group. With appealing images and videos, you can increase brand awareness, present products and drive traffic to your website. Instagram Ads offer various formats such as feed posts, stories and reels.

Native advertising

Native advertising fits seamlessly into the editorial environment of a website or platform. It is also known as sponsored content. In contrast to traditional advertisements, which are often perceived as disruptive, this content acts as an organic part of the offering and appeals to users in a more subtle way.

These can be articles, videos or social media posts, for example.

By creating informative, entertaining or useful content, you can gain the trust of your target group and build a positive association with your brand.

Ideally, your paid post will even be recommended free of charge. So it will bring you additional earned media. This is unlikely to happen with purely promotional articles.

Sponsored content is well suited for various objectives:

  • Increase brand awareness: By placing your content on relevant websites and platforms, you reach a broad target group and familiarize them with your brand.
  • Establish thought leadership: By creating high-quality content on relevant topics, you position yourself as an expert in your industry and (hopefully) gain the trust of your potential clientele.
  • Drive traffic to your website: By integrating links into your sponsored content, you can direct users to your website and possibly encourage them to convert.

Influencer marketing

Influencer marketing is about paid collaborations with the multipliers mentioned above. Unlike influencer relations, you are not hoping that they will be enthusiastic about your news and report on it. Instead, you simply pay them for it.

By collaborating in this way, you can present your products or services to a wide audience and benefit from the credibility and reach of influencers. This also applies to well-made, elaborate content. It is important that the collaboration does not appear contrived and fits the social media profile and its target group. 

And of course the posts must be labeled as advertising as required.

Paid media advantages and disadvantages

What are the advantages of paid media channels?

  • Targeted addressing of the relevant target group
  • Fast results (e.g. traffic for your website)
  • Good control and target group approach

What are the disadvantages of paid media channels?

  • No high credibility
  • Possibly high costs
  • Possibly disturbing for the relevant target group

Finding the right mix for your content distribution

Now that we have looked at the three main channels of content distribution - paid, owned and earned media - the question is: how do you use them most effectively? The answer lies in a sensible mix that combines the potential of the individual channels and is tailored to your individual goals.

Let's summarize once again - each category has its own strengths and weaknesses:

  • Owned media channels give you full control over content and design, but require time and resources to set up and maintain.
  • Earned media channels generate a high level of credibility and reach, but are difficult to control and require excellent content and strategic relationships.
  • Paid media enable a targeted approach and quick results, but cost money and can be perceived as intrusive.

The key to success ultimately lies in the synergy potential:

  • Paid media can drive traffic to your owned media and thus increase the reach of your content.
  • High-quality content on owned media can form the basis for earned media by being shared and recommended.
  • Influencer marketing (paid media) can draw the attention of relevant multipliers to your content and thus generate earned media.

What your perfect mix looks like depends on two things: your goals and your target group.

If your goal is to increase brand awareness through great content, channels with a wide reach such as social media, influencer marketing and native advertising are particularly suitable. If you have a narrowly defined group of people in mind, paid media in the form of ads in search engines and on the social web are more likely to be an option. If you are looking for leads and sales, sending a newsletter to your readership could be a good idea.

Ultimately, you must always pay attention to how and where your target group can best be addressed. What type of content do they consume? Which social media platforms do they use? Which websites do they visit? Do they prefer videos, blog articles or podcasts? 


The selection of possible content and advertising measures is enormous. With the help of the blog article, you have gained clarity about the categories paid, owned and earned media, which should help you plan your activities. After all, a little structure is helpful.

Nevertheless, you have to make many decisions. In my experience, there is no one-size-fits-all formula or recommendation. Rather, experimentation and patience are required when selecting content marketing measures. The good thing is, however, that once you have found a system that works for you, it can become a sure-fire success.

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