The difference between Paid and Earned Media

The difference between Paid and Earned Media

If you own a brand or business, it’s likely (we hope) that you’ve ventured into the world of social media to advertise it. All the while, you’ve probably been exposed to ‘paid media’ and ‘earned media’, while having limited understanding of what these terms mean.

The difference between Paid and Earned Media

To help you understand how ‘paid media’ and ‘earned media’ impact your digital marketing strategy, we’ve decided to break down and compare these two terms. Wondering what they mean? Read on below:

Paid Media:

Paid media can be considered the more traditional form of advertising – that is, as conventional as it can be when it comes to digital marketing. Paid media involves paying social media platforms to advertise your brand in the form of sponsored and targeted ads. More specifically, the channel is able to target specific groups that will be interested in your brand.

Paid media and social media are a match made in marketing heaven. The use of user data and analytics by social media platforms means that these channels are able to effectively target your audience in ways that traditional paid media can’t. Paid media also allows you to reach your audience in ways that you cannot achieve independently, and provides you with accurate and easy ways to measure your impact. 

We all know that you get what you pay for, so if you’re looking for unmatched reach and control, paid media should be a vital element of your digital marketing strategy.

Earned Media:

Earned media refers to the publicity gained through engagement from your audience. The people who engage with your brand are given a microphone, which provides you with free publicity in the form of comments, likes, shares, reviews and mentions. 

This may seem like a daunting prospect for all of you out there striving to put your brand on the radar, but rest assured knowing that earned media is reflective of the quality of your brand. 

Earned media allows your brand’s exposure to grow beyond the traditional boundaries of advertising, and have its voice wedged into every nook and cranny of the social media platforms it inhabits. With this being said, earned media simply can’t operate on its own – consumers responsible for the creation of earned media need to react to paid and earned media.

What makes earned media attractive for brands and businesses is that it’s completely free. However, the payment that you make for earned media is the inability to control it and measure its effectiveness. Although this prospect is daunting, if your brand continually produces well-curated content, earned media will most likely reflect the same quality.

And the winner is…

Paid media and earned media are two sides of the same stone; one is unable to exist without the other. On one hand, paid media provides excellent targeting and control. On the other, earned media allows your brand to gain exposure in new and unconventional areas of social media, and enter the consciousness of the consumer from a peer perspective. Each format functions most effectively when the other is also in use. Therefore, to perfect your digital marketing mix, it’s best to include both paid and earned media. 


Do you need help shaping a social media strategy or managing your social media accounts? Here at Melbourne Social Co we have an expert team of social media specialists ready to help your business!

Get in touch with us today by sending us an email at [email protected] or calling us on: 1300 386 165.