What Is Earned Media and Why Is It Important?

As content publishing and Internet advertising has evolved, the type of content brands produce has become more complex. In general, there are three types of media that brands and advertisers consider, as defined by Forrester:

  • Owned Media: Channel a brand controls (such as a website)
  • Paid Media: Brand pays to leverage a channel (via different forms of advertising)
  • Earned Media: When customers become the channel (often via social sharing)

Further examples of earned media include word of mouth and social buzz. When consumers tell a friend about a brand or brand content, or when they share it on their personal social networks, the impact can be significant for brands for several reasons.

First, earned media is considered by many to be most credible in the eyes of consumers. If a close friend recommends a product or service, a consumer is more likely to try the product or service because they trust the opinions of those closest to them. Furthermore, earned media provides extended reach for brands. As information spreads across networks, one social media post can reach hundreds or thousands more people than a brand would have been able to reach with paid or owned media alone.

As advertisers consider their content and distribution strategies, it’s critical to consider earned media. Encouraging viewers to share or engage with your content can lead to increased exposure and a higher return on paid media investment.


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