What’s the difference between owned, earned and paid content?

If you're putting together a digital marketing plan, you need a balanced mix of paid, owned and earned content. Here’s our lowdown on the three key content types you need to understand.

What is paid content?

This is the easy one! If you pay to put an advert, a banner or content on a website, it’s paid. If you’re paying per click or by results, that’s also paid content. Examples of paid content would include Google Adwords, placing a banner ad on an industry website, paying to promote a post on Facebook. 

Paid activity is generally used to generate leads, grow your followers, and drive traffic across to your owned content.
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What is owned content?

Owned content is any content online that you own and control. For example: 
  • Your website
  • Your blog, 
  • Your YouTube channel
  • Your social media posts (the organic ones, not the social ads and posts you pay for). 
Potentially confusingly, SEO is often seen as owned marketing activity as well, since you’re controlling the content and the way you position it, and no money is changing hands.
Owned content is where you build up the relationships and trust which help customers to buy into your brand. It’s your long-term strategy for winning and keeping customers.

What is earned content?

What’s left is earned content. This is when customers, the press or the public share information about your business, product or service. 
For example:
  • Word of mouth
  • Reviews 
  • Viral campaigns
  • Articles about you on third party sites
  • Endorsements
  • Social media mentions and shares
This covers any mention of your company or product by a third party when you haven’t paid for it. It’s the digital equivalent of PR – publicity, positive reviews and testimonials on third party sites, endorsements, articles and links back to your website. 
Earned content plays several roles in your strategy. It boosts the performance of your owned content, sending visitors across and boosting your SEO. It also validates and enhances your brand, persuading potential customers of your value and acting as a digital reference.
When you’re planning your digital marketing content strategy, make sure you’ve considered all three types of content and you’ll be setting off in the right direction. And if you’d like a hand, drop us a line!
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