— August 8, 2017
Paid media is the quintessential solution for many businesses — “spend money, and all your problems will be solved. Invest in robust ad campaigns, and your ideal customers will flock to you.” Except it isn’t that easy, is it? Not when you’re struggling to stay on budget.
Although the idea behind paid media is intuitive, managing yours can be more work that you may be prepared for. And when you consider the many different kinds of paid media platforms that have exploded over the years, it can only make things more overwhelming and confusing. Luckily, making sense of it all requires little more than a proper definition of “what is paid media?” and its comparisons to earned and owned media.
What is Paid Media?
Paid media is what it sounds like — it is media for your business that you pay for. The most common forms of paid media you are likely to come across include the following:
- Display ads
- Sponsored ads
- Paid search
Facebook ads, Twitter sponsored ads, Google AdWords, and others are all forms of paid media. Businesses of all sizes use these platforms to manage keyword-focused, eye-catching, or otherwise relevant online ads to get their name in front of the right people — the ones who are likely to buy their product.
How Paid Media Helps Your Business
Compared to the other types of media, paid media is relatively easy to understand. It resembles traditional advertising — you put ads together for your products or services and put them on third-party platforms where your ideal customers can see them. Those two things are what paid media does best:
- Increase revenue
- Raise brand awareness
Of course, the first is impossible without the second — people will not buy your products or services if they aren’t aware of your business in the first place. And to do that, you have to go where the people are. Twitter, Facebook, even Google results — all of these areas are prime real estate for paid media ads. These social platforms are ideal for hosting paid media that points back to your owned media efforts to create a profitable awareness loop.
To ignore these platforms is to miss out on an essential component of an online business strategy, but depending on your industry it can be highly competitive (AKA it can cost you a lot of money to put up the ads you want). However, if you pay to play the game then you can create ads that are relevant to your target audiences, boosting your online efforts and bringing customers to your digital doorstep.
But that’s only if you get paid media right in the first place…
How Companies Get Paid Media Wrong
In nearly all discussions about different types of media, companies seem to get paid media wrong the most. In fact, the definitions for what is paid media, owned media, and earned media have begun to blur as time has gone on — ads present on social media are considered “paid media” even though most content on social media is considered “earned,” etc. But these misconceptions lead to dangerous assumptions that have put many a business in dire marketing straits:
They assume that they can focus strictly on paid media and ignore owned media.
Owned media takes a lot of effort. If a business is small, putting up ads vs. spending time writing shareable blogs may seem a much smarter use of your time, and that may even be true… for a while. But the truth is that paid media at the expense of owned media like blogs and social posts is often not as effective as it could be if used together.
Paid and owned media often work in tandem to bring customers in because they create a “second opinion” effect. For example, someone sees a blog you’ve written shared on their social media feed, then sees an ad for your product — that recognition of seeing two different sources with your name on it increases brand awareness and the likelihood of click-through if they’re a relevant part of your audience.
Understand that it does take time, effort, and money to focus on both paid and owned media, but the results can be priceless.
Final thoughts: Paid media is simple in its initial execution but much more difficult to master. Its highly competitive nature and misunderstood definition brings a high difficulty curve to its execution, but when paired with owned media it can be a powerhouse for your business.
We hope you enjoyed our coverage of earned, owned, and paid media. Please subscribe to our blog for more tips, tricks, and general news blurbs about the SEO industry!