Welcome to Ads 101 where we explain both fundamental and complicated marketing topics. Today we’re answering the question: What’s the difference between Earned, Owned, and Paid Media?

Earned, Owned, and Paid: A Quick Breakdown

Earned, Owned, and Paid media are the three main types that all media in a digital marketing campaign are divided into. This includes videos, pictures, audio, your website, and more. All three categories are important aspects to balance in a digital marketing campaign.

All digital marketing campaigns uses various forms of media to spread their brand message. The big difference between Earned, Owned, and Paid is how the media is acquired and spread.


Owned media is media that your business, well, owns. This includes your website, your blog content, and your social media pages. In addition, any product images or videos you paying to create go here, too. You would expect these to go in the paid category, but they don’t. Simply put, you’re going to be owning the final product of these videos. Therefore, they fit into the owned category. The same rule applies to all media you’ve paid for. Anything you can say that you or your business definitively own goes here.


Earned media is the way your content is shared organically across the internet. That’s being discovered via Google Search because of good SEO practices. It’s also a piece of content being liked, shared, and retweeted by individuals and brands.

From a PR perspective, Earned Media is also positive reviews, press releases, and recommendations from journalists and media outlets.

For both Owned and Earned media, this is where a fantastic organic content strategy can really pay off.


Paid media is a broad category that contains every way that you pay to get your brand message out there. That’s social media ads like Facebook ads, LinkedIn Ads, Twitter ads, Snap Ads, YouTube ads, Retargeting Ads on many platforms, Paid Influencer Advertising, and Google PPC and Display ads.

Often these three categories are shown as a venn diagram with three circles. That means that each category works with another to accomplish a specific goal.

How They Work Together

  • Earned Media and Paid Media focus on the way media is spread. Proper SEO and good content strategy can increase the finding and sharing of your content.
  • Owned and Paid help you gain more exposure to your brand and content.
  • Paid and Earned work together to push content engagement and discovery through paid promotion.

And all of these categories come together to create a well balanced digital marketing campaign.

Want to stay up to date with all things Commexis? Please join our mailing list!

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.