Distributing Content With Paid, Owned, and Earned Media

July 16, 2013

paid, owned, and earned mediaI’ve been working on an eBook for some time now about how to build a content factory. This week, I’m writing a chapter about content distribution, which I’m adapting here into a new blog series about paid, owned, and earned media.
In this post, I’ve provided a high-level overview of these three content distribution strategies and, over the next few weeks, I’ll write separate articles that go into more detail about each.
As content marketers, our job isn’t just creating great content that’s targeted at a very specific audience and designed to resonate with that audience’s needs and pain points. It’s also figuring out how to distribute that content effectively.
Effective content distribution goes well beyond sending out an e-mail or posting a piece of content to your website. It generally falls into three main buckets, as this infographic from Michael Brito illustrates:

paid, owned, earned media

Let’s break that down with an explanation of each of these distribution tactics.

1) Paid media

What is it? Think of paid media as advertising that, as the name implies, you are actively spending your marketing budget on. The advantage of paid media opportunities is that they allow you to quickly get your message out in front of a large audience of potential new customers. The downside, of course is that it can be pricey, and because you’re competing with so many other brands, your messages can easily get overlooked or ignored.
What are some examples? Banner ads that you run online, sponsorships, content syndication opportunities, or paid search marketing.
Who is it best for targeting? People who you don’t already know, but who could be future customers.

2) Owned media

What is it? Any distribution channel that you can completely control counts as owned media. While they are free, don’t underestimate the amount of time it takes to manage all of your owned media. There are tons of owned media channels out there and overseeing and optimizing them all is a full-time job.
What are some examples? Your company’s website, blog, newsletter, and social media accounts such as Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.
Who is it best for targeting? Existing customers who are already a part of your community.

3) Earned media

What is it? Earned media can take a few different forms, from traditional PR where a journalist sees your press release and writes an article about a new report you have published, to word of mouth and people talking about and sharing your content on their own. It’s one of the most powerful ways of distributing content, because in effect others are voluntarily validating your work for you, but it’s also the hardest to make happen. Another big advantage of being covered on earned sites is that they often have authority and ranking in a particular domain. As a result, when they link back to your content, it can give you a real boost in terms of search engine results.
What are some examples? Getting mentioned in a third-party blog or article, having an industry influencer tweet your latest eBook, or seeing a video you created go viral.
Who is it best for targeting? Anyone who is already your fan and is willing to help spread the word around to others.

Additional reading

Beyond this very high-level overview, here are some additional resources on paid, owned, and earned media that are definitely worth checking out:

Stay tuned for additional posts in this series and for OpenView’s forthcoming content marketing eBook.

Content Marketing Director

<strong>Kevin Cain</strong> is the Content Marketing Director for <a href="http://www.bluechipcommunication.com.au/">BlueChip Communication</a>, Australia's leading financial services communication firm. Before joining BlueChip, Kevin was the Director of Content Strategy for OpenView.