Defining Owned, Earned and Paid Media in Agency Marketing

December 15, 2014 Becky Schroeder

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Agency owners wear a lot of hats. Marketing is one of many, and you may find it difficult to keep up with all the terms and tactics. Business use owned, earned and paid media in online marketing quite often. You may know what paid media is, but what about owned or earned media?

Owned media is a channel that you own and control. This includes your insurance agency website, blog and social media profiles. Yes, in the technical sense, you do not own your Facebook Page. If you don't follow their Terms of Service, Facebook can shut down your profile. But, you do not have to pay to have a page. Also, you do control your profile and the content you share on it. This is why your social media profiles are owned media.

Advantages: You control the content. It is cost efficient and versatile. You can create specific content for niche audiences.

Challenges: There are no guarantees your target audience will find it. It takes time to build trust and reach a larger audience.

Earned media is when people outside your agency, including clients, prospects and news organizations, share your content or talk about you. These mentions are earned, meaning you do not pay for them.

Advantages: It is the most credible channel. It plays a key role in most sales, e.g., referrals.

Challenges: You have no control. Comments can be negative. It is hard to measure.

Paid media is anytime you pay a third-party to share your content. Paid search, sponsorships, display ads on third-party websites are examples of paid media.

Advantages: It is immediate. You can control the content. It is easy to do more or less paid media depending on results and budget.
Challenges: Response rates are lower than other channels. You are fighting for attention. Ads are often seen to be less credible.

Two Myths to Avoid

  1. All you need is owned media.

    Owned media is important, but it's not enough. What many agencies need is reach and scale. An insurance agency website with a good blog, free reports and other resources could use more traffic. Your Facebook Page may not have a lot of followers or people sharing your content yet. This is where earned and paid media can help. They can extend your reach and amplify your content.

  2. Paid media is more expensive.

    There is a cost to every type of media, whether it is time, money or both. For example, you are either spending the time yourself to develop your owned media or paying for agency marketing services to develop it for you. If you want your social media profiles to grow, it is going to take time and effort (and maybe some money) to build those channels. Logging into your profile every few months is not going to make an impact. Don't assume that advertising is the more expensive option. Look at all your expenses, including the time and money spent on every channel, when deciding where to focus.


Combine Two or More Channels for Bigger Impact
When you use one media channel to extend another, you have more powerful agency marketing. For example, write a blog post for your insurance agency website [owned media]. Share the link on your Facebook Page. If it is an important post, encourage your followers to share it with their friends [earned media]. Try making it a sponsored post for $5 or $10 to expand your reach [paid media].

You will find your marketing to be more powerful and effective when you combine channels instead of focusing on one to the exclusion of others.

How do you combine owned, earned and paid media for bigger impact? Tell us in the comments.



About the Author

Becky Schroeder

As Chief Marketing Officer, Becky Schroeder is responsible for driving ITC’s overall marketing strategy for the company and its products. Her specialties include creating and documenting processes; establishing metrics for managing those processes; developing content strategy and generating leads; and developing marketing strategy. Becky was named an Elite Woman in Insurance by Insurance Business America in 2016. She has a master’s degree in integrated marketing communication from Emerson College in Boston and a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Texas A&M University. Becky is a big Texas A&M football fan and enjoys cooking, reading and spending time with her husband and their three daughters.

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