Crafting content in an earned/paid/owned marketing world

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Jenny Force Jenny Force, VP of Marketing

For those in the digital marketing business, it’s so easy to get lost in marketing buzzwords and fads. In our day-to-day work we seek to create campaigns and content that is helpful, sharable and aimed at contributing to some sort of business objectives such as converting leads, driving sign-ups for a newsletter or gaining foot-traffic to a physical campaign or location.

Ultimately, there are three marketing subtypes that our digital efforts contribute to. These include paid, owned and earned media. Let’s explore each of these terms and see how social data and social intelligence contribute to each.

Paid media

Paid media, as the name implies, is an ad placement, endorsement or effort that is a paid placement. Examples include TV/radio ads, billboards, print ads and in the digital world, ad on our favorite social networking sites such as Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter.

Increasingly, with brands looking to work with authoritative voices online, paid influencer campaigns are being used. These involve compensating influencers to spread brand messages on their channels or even giving them creative freedom to tell the story of your brand through their styles and ways.

Owned media

Owned media is any publicity or attention that’s gained through an effort that leverages channels you already own. The classic example is a corporate website and we should also include corporate blogs, owned social media properties. Channels such as social media are extensions of your website and although they’re not technically ‘owned’ by your company, they’re great extensions and a way to bring audiences back to your .com site.

Earned media

Earned media is my favorite channel. Because, as brands or organizations, we can produce the most amazing content on our owned and paid media types, but if the public isn’t interacting with it, what good is it? Earned media is online word of mouth, or in the social media sense it’s mentions, shares, reposts, reviews, recommendations and other content picked up on 3rd party sites such as blogs and review sites.

For me, as a content producer, it’s awesome when the content I produce is shared and discussed online. It feels good to have a concept for a blog post or infographic and that asset achieves massive amounts of re-tweets, shares on Facebook and pins to Pinterest.

Let’s mix it up

So now that we’ve defined earned/paid/owned media, which one is the most effective? The best examples of campaigns are those that mix and draw benefit from two or all three of these media types.

Gap’s featuring Pete Halvorsen

A friend of mine, Pete Halvorsen, is a travel photographer and creative media consultant based in Manhattan Beach, California. Pete’s demographic fits well within Gap’s target market and he was recently a part of Gap’s campaign. He’s the perfect influencer for Gap to work with for the campaign.

In this campaign, Pete Halvorsen appears on and on Gap’s social channels. The campaign also involves Pete’s Instagram presence with placements there as well.


Halvorsen Instagram

This campaign smartly leverages three media types as a prime example of a digital marketing campaign. In working with Pete Halvorsen, Gap has a paid influencer to help tell the Gap style story through the lens of a well-known voice in the worlds of travel, style and photography. Also, Gap is including photography and video on their owned channels ( and Gap social media sites) and in paid advertising placements.

In working with Pete and having him post on his Instagram and Twitter channels, shares are gained contributing to earned media metrics as well.

What’s your favorite integrated marketing campaign? How has the brand used an integrated approach for a truly compelling offering?

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