Paid, Owned & Earned Media: Marketing & Advertising Tips for SMEs

Paid, Owned & Earned Media: Marketing & Advertising Tips for SMEs
  • Due to an increasing number of media channels and platforms, it's becoming increasingly difficult to influence your customers.
  • For SME businesses, there are some simple tatics you can start implementing to form the foundations pillars of your marketing and advertising strategies. 
  • To do this, you need to understand the basics of paid, owned and earned media. Read on to learn about the various types of media and how they operate within the marketing mix.

In today’s fast changing media landscape there has never been so many choices for businesses, of all sizes, to reach their customers.

And it has never been so difficult to influence these customers through the many marketing and advertising messages they see each day - on an increasing range of media platforms.

There are, however, some foundation tactics solo and small to medium business owners (even those with minimal budgets and resources) can apply as a base to their broader marketing and advertising strategies.

Have you heard of the term ‘paid, owned and earned media’?

This is a fairly recent term but it’s an established concept and refers to channels businesses utilise and combine to reach their customer base and generate leads and sales.

In this article, we will cover some of the main marketing and advertising options within the paid, owned and earned channels.

What is owned media?

Owned media and marketing platforms which you, own, manage and have direct influence over.  Examples of owned media include:

  • Your ‘Shopfronts’ – such as your website, bricks and mortar store, e-bay/etsy store, &/or mobile/tablet platforms.  Platforms reaching your market can be continually optimised for response and sales.
  • Your Brand Collateral - such as logo, business cards, letterhead, email sigs, business brochures and flyers – all should have a professional consistent theme.
  • Emailed Newsletter - regular opt-in emailed newsletter sent to your potential and current customers promoting your products and services and driving sales.  This can become a key marketing tool with efforts put in place across your business to maximise subscribers.  
  • Social Media - Social media platforms such as Twitter, Linkedin, Facebook and Pinterest are free to participate from a monetary point of view but to attract full value you need to plan and dedicate resources and time.
  • Blog/Vlog - you may have a blog or increasingly popular 'video' blog

Results generated through your paid and earned media will lead back to these owned media options where you can actively convert leads to provide the product and service your business offers and generate revenue.

Owned media is the starting point to any campaign and should be the first channel you address as part of your overall marketing and advertising plans.

What is paid advertising?

Paid advertising can be tightly targeted to your primary and maybe secondary targets markets and include:

  • Performance Advertising – a low risk advertising option as you pay on a response only basis.  Examples of performance advertising include Search Engine Marketing (SEM) through google adwords and display network, retargeting, Facebook advertising and affiliate marketing
  • Directories – list your business in all quality directories reaching your market.  Many directories offer free listings and inexpensive upgraded paid listings.
  • Display/Classifieds Advertising – a consistent presence within media directly reaching your target markets ie print, magazines, websites, cinema and radio for local businesses.  These media options may also run special features which are highly relevant to your product and service where you can advertise against content which will attract your prime target market.  As an advertiser in these features you can often negotiate an editorial mention of some kind.

Search MediaScope's Directory now - to easily find print, magazines, websites, newsletters and other media channels which directly reach your target market.

  • Events – a presence at events or exhibitions directly reaching your audience can be an effective way to reach and establish your business within your market
  • Direct Mail - opportunities to distribute your brands' flyers, brochures or sales collateral

What is earned media?

Mentions or appearance for your business appearing within all forms of third party media.  Examples Include:

  • Organic Search - optimise content appearing within your digital 'owned media' platforms for maximum google (and other) search engine placement to attract inbound traffic
  • Public Relations (PR) - distributed information or press releases about your business appearing within all forms of media
  • Editorial Mentions - quotes from people within your business or editorial mentions appearing within all forms of media
  • Content Syndication/Branded Content -   an 'expert' article written by someone within your business which appears on someone else's site or magazine - or your blog content republished  
  • Social Media Sharing/Buzz/Viral -your social media content shared or promoted by your followers
  • WOM (word of mouth) - your customers passing on positive (or negative) feedback regarding your business

Case Study - see how KHD Landscape Engineering Solutions (KHD) - a Melbourne based commercial landscape designer - is aiming to for the holy grail' by successfully combining elements from paid, owned and earned media into their marketing mix

Each solo and small to medium business will have their own unique marketing and advertising mix, where options from these paid, owned and earned channels can be combined and leveraged through a consistent, measured and continually evolving plan.

However - even with these foundation marketing and advertising strategies in place results are highly dependent on delivering a good product and service which meets the needs of customers. 

As the saying goes - "There is a great deal of advertising that is much better than the product. When that happens, all that the good advertising will do is put you out of business faster".

This article was written by Denise Shrivell - and first appeared on MediaScope in October 2012

About MediaScope: - a solo run business by a long term advertising & media professional offering SMEs a growing range of products & services including:

  • - Australia's most comprehensive advertising planning directory with over 3,500 listings focusing on niche, alternative & emerging media options
  • - Resources, articles, terminology, profiles, weekly newsletter & the popular 'MediaScape' guides - practical information on buying and selling advertising & media
  • - Tailored Services including an advertising & media campaign planning service
  • Contact MediaScope's founder - Denise Shrivell - for further information.

Denise Shrivell - MediaScope

Founder at MediaScope - Directory | Resources | Services

I am the founder of MediaScope.

Comments (2)
Denise Shrivell - MediaScope

Denise Shrivell - MediaScope, Founder at MediaScope - Directory | Resources | Services

Thanks Eric - appreciate that and very glad the article was of value. Even if you are not using media options reaching your direct/secondary target markets for paid media you'd benefit by having them on your radar and subscribing to their newsletters, get involved in any free directories, pr purposes etc. I'd be happy to direct you to media in your relevant categories in MediaScope's directory. Get in touch if of interest. Thanks again!

Eric Phuah

Eric Phuah, Director at

Very informative article Denise. As a entrepreneur with a small budget I'll lean towards the owned and earned channels but doesn't hurt to have knowledge about the paid media either for the future. Thanks for the tips.