Earned Media
Earned Media
Earned Media is essentially the recognition and visibility achieved through non-paid advertising methods. It is often achieved through word-of-mouth, social shares, press releases, and organic search engine results.

What is Earned Media? 

Earned Media refers to the exposure a brand receives organically, without direct payment, through channels outside of its control. This can include social media mentions, reviews, news articles, and any content created and shared by users or third parties that highlights the brand or its products.

The distinction of Earned Media lies in its authenticity and trustworthiness. Since it's not paid for by the brand and isn't self-promoted content, audiences tend to trust Earned Media more, seeing it as an unbiased endorsement of a brand's value. This trust is crucial in today's marketing landscape, where consumers are increasingly skeptical of traditional advertising and more influenced by peer opinions and independent reviews.

Differences in Earned Media, Paid Media, and Owned Media:

Let’s look into the definition of Owned Media and Paid Media first:

  • Owned Media refers to any communication channel or platform that a brand controls and uses to publish content directly to its audience. This includes the brand's website, blogs, mobile apps, social media profiles, and email newsletters. It allows for full control over the message, content, style, and timing of communication and serves as the foundation for building direct relationships with customers, providing valuable information, and enhancing brand presence and authority. 
  • Paid Media encompasses all marketing efforts that require payment to feature a brand's content or advertisements on external websites and networks. This includes traditional advertising (such as TV and radio ads), digital advertising (such as pay-per-click ads, display ads, and social media ads), sponsored content, and influencer partnerships where the influencer is compensated. Paid media is used to increase exposure beyond organic reach, target specific audiences, and drive traffic to owned media properties. 

You can see more differences in this table:

Aspect Earned Media Paid Media Owned Media
Control No direct control; depends on third-party actions and perception. Complete control over placement, content, and timing. Full control over content, format, and timing.
Cost No direct cost; relies on organic growth. Incurs costs for ad space or time. Primarily the cost of creation and maintenance.
Trust Level High, as it is organically generated and perceived as authentic. Lower than Earned Media due to its paid nature. Moderate, as audiences know it is brand-generated.

Why is Earned Media Important?

Earned Media holds a pivotal role in today's digital marketing strategies for several compelling reasons:

Trust and Credibility

Earned Media is perceived as the most authentic form of marketing because it is essentially a third-party endorsement of a brand. When customers, influencers, or media entities talk positively about a brand, it lends credibility and builds trust among wider audiences. This trust is crucial in an era where consumers are increasingly skeptical of direct advertising and value transparency and authenticity.

Amplified Reach and Visibility

Unlike owned or paid media, which have inherent reach limitations, Earned Media can exponentially increase a brand's visibility. A single share, review, or mention can cascade through networks, potentially reaching millions of consumers. This organic amplification can significantly boost a brand's presence with little to no direct cost.


While Earned Media is not entirely free—as it may require an investment in high-quality content creation, public relations, and community management—it does not involve the direct costs associated with paid advertising campaigns. The ROI from Earned Media, given its ability to build trust and extend reach organically, can be significantly higher than traditional paid advertising efforts.

How to Integrate Earned Media with Paid and Owned Media

Though having different strengths and focuses, all these three can only reach their potential when used in combination to make a well-rounded marketing strategy. Still wondering how to make that happen? Please refer to these tactics:

Content Amplification

  • Owned to Earned: Share high-quality, engaging content from your owned channels (like blog posts or videos) on social media or through email newsletters to encourage shares, mentions, and reviews.
  • Paid to Earned: Use paid media to promote content that has already received positive feedback or engagement organically, increasing the likelihood of further Earned Media exposure.

Leverage Earned Media in Owned & Paid Channels

Showcase positive reviews, testimonials, and user-generated content on your website, app, or social media profiles or use it as part of your ad creatives to lend authenticity to your paid campaigns. Highlighting earned & paid media on owned channels not only boosts credibility but also encourages more customers to share their experiences, creating a cycle of positive feedback.

Utilize user-generated content

Highlight and share user-created content, such as positive reviews and testimonials, on your own channels to boost trustworthiness. Incorporate this authentic content into your paid advertising efforts to foster greater interaction.

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