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One in a Billion: How to Stand Out Online with a Holistic Approach to Earned, Owned and Paid Media


Facebook recently announced that it’s changing its algorithm. It wants to put family and news in focus on personal newsfeeds. That means pages and advertising may have reduced organic effects. The news sent marketers and businesses into a frenzy.


Let’s take a look at how the big brands spend their marketing budgets. Amazon spends $1.35 billion on searches each year. Then they spend $54 million on print. Etsy spends $1.39 million on searches and $90,000 on other digital channels. Apple routinely spends more than 85% of its marketing budget on searches.

The key takeaway here is that for businesses wanting to reach their audience and consumers, organic reach is dead. And advertising spending is going to be fully integrated into any social marketing effort, whether directly from brands or through their ecosystem of influencers and ambassadors.


The purpose of advertising is simple. You want your brand to be found. If most consumers are researching brands before contacting them, doesn’t it make sense to use paid media to get your message noticed?


The internet is big. Huge. Massive and very broad. Live Science notes that 40,000 searches happen on Google every second. In 2014, the internet hit 1 billion websites.

How do you get noticed when that many brands, people and influencers are broadcasting and publishing content simultaneously?

To answer that, let’s take a step back and examine the online landscape and its key components.


Paid media, owned media, earned media: Let’s get on the same page for definitions.

  • Paid media is the type of advertising you pay for on a platform. Facebook Ads is an example of paid media.

  • Owned media is what you create. Your company website is an example of owned media.

  • Earned media is when you’ve earned what used to be called “free press.” It might come from a positive review, shares, retweets, or even word-of-mouth praise.


According to Business Insider, $72.5 billion was spent on internet advertising in the United States in 2016. Statista reports the total global ad market in 2017 was an estimated $511 billion.


Why paid media should be integrated with owned media every time

It is true that owned media can create results similar to those of paid media. The issue here is that owned media can be unpredictable. If the content offers promises that seem unrealistic (even if the values are proven), it can turn the customer away.

Or worse: your content is structured in such a way that it is difficult for the average person to read. That leads people to skim it, which means their research may miss your promised value. They go somewhere else and you’ve wasted your time. To prevent this, you need high-quality content production.

With the changes made to Facebook, paid media makes it easier for your brand to be found. You’ll still be able to put your message right where a customer needs to see it. Paid media removes the uncertainty of whether or not owned content will show up on a newsfeed.


Paid media also gives you more control over the process. You can set a daily pay-per-click budget. You can test different messages to see what is effective. With correct metrics, you can tailor paid media to encourage potential customers to come find out more about the value you offer, which eventually leads to a potential sale.


How to measure your paid, owned, shared and earned media

Measuring your paid media is pretty simple. A number of analytical tools can show you how much traffic is being driven to your brand. You can separate social, search and display into separate channels on most platforms so you can track your ROI.

Measuring owned media can be a little tricky. Traffic is important, but conversions and actual sales are a better metric to track to see if your content is working successfully. Shares, retweets, mentions, reactions and all that other stuff is nice to see, but popularity doesn’t necessarily equate to money in your pocket. With successful owned media, your clicks and buys should go up at the same rate as your traffic does.


Measuring earned media means managing your brand’s reputation. This is where your mentions and shares are most important. Do you receive positive feedback? Or is there negativity in what people are sharing? Always monitor your earned media so you can respond quickly to negative feedback.


Shared media combines all three measurement options to evaluate their combined effectiveness. You need to be professional and friendly when you engage. Having a sense of humor can be helpful. Then you need to watch how people react to your work. Purple offers an excellent example of how to engage in shared media on Facebook. They have a Customer Delight Department, immediately engage with negative comments, and work hard to make sure the brand message stays on point.

Holistic approach to online marketing: key takeaway

You want your brand to get noticed, but in a positive way. You want to create customers who are ready to buy. That means you need to be where they are. And that means you need to increase to a healthy portion of paid media.


In a landscape that seems to be ever-shifting, a holistic approach to your digital and online efforts withstands the test of time. When you become part of the customer’s journey from the first moment, that allows the other forms of media to complement what you’ve already established with that customer. Then, use measurements and metrics to ensure you’re earning a return on your investment.

That is how you can make sure your brand’s voice gets noticed in a sea of one billion other voices.


Shared media is a grey area that includes advertising, brand messaging and self-promotion. Whenever you engage with someone on social media, it creates a network of views that affect the brand.