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What Is the Difference Between Earned and Paid Media?

What Is the Difference Between Earned and Paid Media?

The world of marketing is vast and ever-evolving, with many strategies to choose from. Two common strategies are earned media and paid media - but what exactly are the differences between these approaches? How do they help with visibility, credibility, and legislative priorities?

CLB Partners is here to help you through this analysis and plan your engagement with the legislature and all governmental entities.

What is paid media?

Paid media refers to any form of marketing you must pay for, such as purchasing advertising on a website or airtime on the radio. Paid media can take various forms, such as:

  • Display Advertising: This includes banner ads, pop-up ads, and other graphical or visual advertisements placed on websites, mobile apps, or social media platforms.
  • Search Engine Advertising: This involves placing ads in search engine results pages, such as Google Ads or Bing Ads. Advertisers bid on specific keywords or search terms, and their ads appear when users search for those terms. Advertisers pay per click (PPC) when someone clicks on their ad.
  • Social Media Advertising: Social media platforms, such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, and YouTube, offer paid advertising options to businesses and organizations. Advertisers can target specific demographics, interests, or behaviors and pay based on impressions or clicks.
  • Paid Content Promotion: This includes sponsored or promoted content, such as native advertisements or advertorials, which are designed to blend in with the surrounding content on a website or platform. Advertisers pay for the content to be promoted to a larger audience.
  • Influencer Marketing: Brands can collaborate with influencers or content creators with a significant social media following. Advertisers compensate influencers to create and promote content that showcases their brand or product to the influencer's audience.

Advantages of paid media 

When it comes to paid media, some of the advantages include:

  • Targeted Reach: Paid media allows businesses to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, behaviors, or search intent. This targeting capability ensures that advertisements reach relevant individuals who are more likely to be interested in the product or service being promoted. Additionally, the ability to micro-target continues to evolve to assist your goals.
  • Increased Visibility: Paid media can significantly boost brand visibility by placing advertisements in prominent positions across various platforms. This increased exposure can help businesses reach a wider audience, generate brand awareness, and attract potential customers.
  • Control over Messaging and Placement: With paid media, organizations have control over messaging, creative content, and ad placement. They can tailor their advertisements to align with their brand identity, convey specific messages, and choose where and when the ads will be displayed.
  • Measurable Results: Paid media platforms provide analytics and metrics that allow businesses to track the performance of their campaigns. Advertisers can monitor impressions, clicks, conversions, and other key performance indicators to measure the effectiveness of their paid media efforts and optimize campaigns accordingly.
  • Fast and Immediate Impact: Unlike organic marketing strategies, paid media can generate results quickly. Advertisements can be launched and displayed almost instantly, allowing businesses to reach their target audience promptly and see immediate impact and feedback.

What is earned media?

Earned media is, in many ways, the opposite of paid media. Instead of paying to advertise, earned media is the promotion of your company or campaign through organic means. Earned media can take various forms, including:

  • Media Coverage: When journalists or reporters write articles, news stories, or features about an organization or brand and publish them in newspapers, magazines, online publications, post on their social media feeds or broadcast outlets. This coverage can include interviews, product reviews, or profiles that provide exposure and credibility to the organization. In regards to social media, these posts are amplified when others follow the journalist.
  • Content: When content, such as a video, image, or campaign, gains widespread attention and shares on social media or other online platforms. The content goes viral organically, generating significant exposure and reach for the organization or brand.
  • Public Relations Efforts: Activities and strategies implemented by the organization's PR team to secure media coverage, arrange interviews, or pitch stories to journalists and media outlets. This can include press releases, media events, or media relations initiatives to generate positive coverage and enhance the organization's reputation.

Advantages of earned media 

Earned media offers several advantages that organizations should consider when assessing its role in their marketing strategies. For example, earned media is often perceived as an unbiased endorsement. Other pros of earned media include:

  • Greater Reach and Exposure: Earned media can provide organizations with access to broader audiences and new market segments. Media outlets or influencers that share content about the organization can generate significant exposure, increase brand visibility, and reach a wider audience.
  • Cost-Effective: Compared to paid media, earned media typically does not require direct payment. Organizations can benefit from media coverage or influencer mentions without incurring the costs associated with advertising or promotional campaigns. This makes earned media a cost-effective way to generate awareness and exposure.
  • Authenticity and Storytelling: Earned media allows organizations to share their story or message in a more authentic and engaging manner. Journalists or influencers may provide a more nuanced and in-depth perspective, helping to create a compelling narrative that resonates with the target audience. They stand as third-party validators and lend authenticity to the story.

Issues to consider with paid and earned media 

Any campaign should establish a budget before starting. When drafting the budget, discussions should take place on valuing all forms of messaging. With this in mind, when outlining a paid media strategy, the costs and timelines of your messaging exposure on the paid mediums should be taken into consideration to match your legislative and governmental plans.

While earned media might be the most cost-effective option, it does require investments in resources and extensive relationship-building. Organizations need to proactively engage with media professionals, bloggers, influencers, or customers to develop mutually beneficial relationships and provide them with valuable accurate content or experiences. This investment of time, effort, and resources can be demanding.

Unlike paid media where you can control all aspects of it, earned media will come with limited control and depends on factors such as newsworthiness, media relationships, competition, and external factors. There is a level of uncertainty regarding the timing and impact of earned media, making it difficult to plan and measure results. You must do your best to ensure accuracy and reliability in what you present. However, in the end, the individual covering the issue will ultimately report as they see it.

Which marketing strategy is best for me?

Both paid and earned media have advantages and issues that need to be reviewed before embarking on any campaign. Paid media provides control, targeting, and immediate results, while earned media offers credibility, amplification, and cost-effectiveness. An effective marketing strategy often involves a combination of both, along with other marketing channels, to maximize reach, impact, and brand recognition. The choice between paid and earned media depends on factors such as marketing goals, target audience, budget, and resources available.

The key to success lies in understanding your specific objectives and carefully selecting the strategies that align with your goals and resonate with your target audience. It's crucial to continuously evaluate and adapt your marketing efforts, leveraging data and analytics to make informed decisions and optimize your campaigns.

Remember, marketing is not a one-size-fits-all solution, and what works for one business or campaign may not work for another. By staying adaptable, embracing innovation, and keeping a customer and target audience-centric mindset, you can create effective marketing strategies that drive governmental success, growth, and engagement.

CLB Partners is here to take you through each step in the journey and explain all pathways to you to maximize your efforts to place you in the best position possible to reach your goals.

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