Understanding Owned, Earned, and Paid Media for Small Businesses

Small Businesses for paid media

Professional marketers usually have a lot of detailed information on owned, earned, and paid media. When working in marketing for an agency or a brand, marketers come to understand the different types of media deeply. But that may not always be so for an entrepreneur or a business leader. Many businessmen and women start out with a business plan and the determination to see it through. During the course of running the small businesses for media, however, they may have to wear a lot of different hats. Meaning they have to acquire new skills on the job, including marketing. To help you out, this blog offers a condensed look at owned, earned, and paid media. 

Understanding Owned, Earned, and Paid Media

Virtually every business uses some form of media in its marketing efforts. I can’t go online on my Spectrum internet without seeing loads of marketing content. Look at everything from website ads to social media sponsored posts to product searches. You can see marketing in play everywhere even if you don’t really understand how it works. However, by the time you’re done reading this blog, you’ll have a much better idea of what owned, earned, and paid media are. Without further ado, let’s dive right into it. 

Owned Media – Created or Controlled By You

Owned media refers to the marketing channels that you either own or have created. As well as the ownership, a major defining factor is your control over the channel. Your brand’s website and blog posts are a good example of small businesses for media that you own. Even your Facebook page or YouTube channel can be classified as owned media. Yes, you don’t own Facebook or YouTube as marketing channels. But you still have a lot of control over your page or channel. And you’re not paying to use their platforms.  

Earned Media – Audiences Engaging With Your Content

Earned media typically includes the impact your brand is having on your target audience. In other words, it’s when visitors, the press, and the general public discuss and mention your brand. This does not necessarily have to be online. Offline and word-of-mouth discussions also count as earned media. The focus here is on voluntarily earning engagement from your audience.   

Paid Media – Third-Party Advertising and Sponsorships

Paid media is something that most people are already quite familiar with. Of course, they may not know it by the name “paid media”. But you have likely encountered it yourself. It refers to a brand paying to use a third-party channel. Sponsored ads on Google, influencer endorsements, etc. are good examples of paid media in action. 

Myths About Marketing Media

There are 2 key opinions about modern marketing media that are actually myths. They are just so commonly accepted that we don’t look beyond them. The first myth is the opinion that your business only really needs owned media. Yes, owned small businesses for media is a valuable marketing asset. But it’s not enough on its own, especially for small businesses. Your owned marketing channels may not always have the scale or reach of your larger competitors. Sure, you may have a website, blog, and social media presence. But on their own, they’re likely not enough to get you to your goal. This is where you need to mix in earned and paid media for better reach.

The second myth generalizes paid media to be the most expensive out of all three. This is not strictly true. Every media will cost you, in time or in money. They may even cost you both. Owned media will still require you to invest in things like content creation, SEO, development, and more. Earned media takes a lot of time to reach the stage where it can start showing tangible results. All the while, you have to continue to pump out valuable content to engage audiences. Paid media may involve a direct transfer of cash, but it’s not like other marketing media is a cakewalk.    


For the 21st Century business leader, the game is a lot different from a few decades ago. These days, you’ll find you need to switch between several key roles. That implies you’ll need to acquire more knowledge and skills to survive changing business conditions. With owned, earned, and paid media, you probably now understand more than you did before. But here’s no cookie-cutter recipe for using this. Each business uses a unique mix of the three media channels to maximize ROI. 

What works for a competitor may not necessarily work for you. There may be several factors at play. For example, your competitor could be much larger and much better-known, like the Spectrum phone number. But that doesn’t automatically mean you should stop competing. The right mix of owned, earned, and paid media can put you on a more level playing field. With practice, and learning from your mistakes, you can make that happen.  

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