When defining a digital strategy, there is a trio of words that help to build your path paid, owned and earned media. The most frequent question asked is which one should my business focus on? While many digital marketers focus on one or two, the use of all three is critical for marketing success.

Most B2B marketing folk treat them individually and pursue them using different mediums and staff members integrating them into the main strategic focus of the business. Each of the channels are very similar, digital marketing is no longer a single strategy, the focus and importance now relies on a well balanced mix.

Here is what each media channel is further defined as:

Paid media

This one is quite simple it is all of the advertising which you must pay for, and includes:

  • Print ads
  • TV ads
  • Display ads
  • Paid search / PPC
  • Promoted posts on Facebook
  • Sponsored tweets
  • LinkedIn Paid Advertising

If you have paid for it to drive traffic to your owned properties, this is where it is classified. As you can tell, the mention of paid to owned tells you that you cannot have one stream without the other.

Owned media

These are all of your digital assets that belong to your brand which you control:

  • Your website
  • Mobile site
  • Retail stores (online and offline)
  • Blogs
  • Social media channels
  • Apps
  • Magazines
  • Brochures

It is down to the individual strength of each of these channels that will determine the effectiveness of strangers to drive and build upon these, that is why sometimes, paid media is required to help boost acquisition.

Earned media

This is free publicity that your channels provide by fans or users of your product. As you have not paid for it and it is free, it is therefore classified as earned. This can include:

  • Retweets
  • Facebook Likes
  • YouTube comments
  • Shares
  • Bloggers writing about your product
  • Online reviews
  • Word of mouth

Either an extremely funny video which becomes viral or your constantly engaging Twitter account has been good enough for someone to create a positive piece of content for you or share your original content further.

Ultimately these types of media work best together but making the hard choices of what to include and what not to include is crucial especially when budgets are tight. But if you simply start by categorising your media and identifying the right roles based on your objectives, then your on the right path.