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How Paid Media Can Increase Your Brand's Value In any balanced media strategy, paid media should be included alongside earned and owned media. Whether a brand is large or small, the level of control it affords brand teams, and the affordability of digital media outlets can deliver excellent results.

By Jessica Wong

Key Takeaways

  • In any balanced media strategy, paid media should be included alongside earned and owned media. Whether a brand is large or small, the level of control it affords brand teams and the affordability of digital media outlets can deliver excellent results.
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Never before have brands had a greater choice of channels to reach their audiences. The advent of online publications and social media channels has given organizations more opportunities to connect with their audiences. At the same time, selecting which channels are right has arguably become harder.

One way of simplifying this choice is to distinguish between three pillars of media coverage: owned, earned, and paid media. Each pillar has its advantages and disadvantages, and the strongest media strategies tend to rely on an optimized combination of two or three.

Paid media stands out through the level of control it offers brand and leadership teams.

Related: Are You Ready to Start With Paid Media? Here's What You Need to Know.

What is paid media?

The term paid media refers to all paid-for outlets organizations have to promote their messages or share their content. Paid media includes sponsored blog posts, display adverts, pop-ups, search results, or paid-for video content. Previously, brands had a far more limited choice of paid media: newspaper or magazine adverts or inserts and radio or TV advertising or sponsorship were among the most prominent choices.

While these traditional forms of paid media continue to have their place in today's media strategies, digital channels have leveled the playing field between small and large brands. Digital paid media opportunities can be far more affordable than classic advertising options.

Like other forms of media, paid media performs best when brands share high-quality content, including imagery and video. Matching content to channel and audience is also critical for outstanding results.

Related: Can Paid Media Ever Earn Your Customer's Trust?

Benefits of paid media

In terms of building brand credibility, earned media beats both owned and paid media. One of the downsides, however, of earned media is the lack of control brand teams have over the content. This control element is one of paid media's strengths for several reasons. First and foremost, brands remain in control of what they share and when and where they want to reach out to their audiences. Second, and perhaps more importantly, many paid media opportunities are highly measurable, making it easy to take a fully data-driven approach to paid media.

Reaching the right audience at the right time

Paid media makes it easy for brands to reach the right audience at the right time. The brand team does not need to rely on a third party, like a blogger, influencer or journalist, to share its content. There is no need to spend time on relationship building and no doubt about whether the message will be shared as intended.

In addition, paid media allows brands to increase their exposure to a new audience. By sharing sponsored content with a selected social media audience, for example, brands may reach potential consumers who would otherwise have been unaware of their products and services. This is a great advantage compared to owned media, which may have a limited audience, especially if a brand is new.

Earned media coverage takes some time to generate, making it hard for a brand to gain momentum. Paid media helps bridge that gap between, for example, the launch of a company and its product and earned media generating momentum.

Putting data as the basis of every decision

The opportunity to take a data-driven approach to generate media exposure is perhaps the biggest advantage of paid over earned media. Almost every channel offering paid media advertising opportunities today can provide detailed audience information. Basic demographic details are only the beginning of this. Most paid media outlets also understand their users' interests and online behavior, allowing brands to target potential customers exactly when they are most receptive to their messages.

A data-driven approach makes it easy to iterate and improve campaigns while they are underway. Reviewing the performance of a display advert or a promotional video and comparing it to expectations or similar content allows brand teams to finetune their approach without the need for guesswork.

In addition, rich data like this makes it easier for brand teams to communicate their results to the company's leadership team. Being able to show a campaign's exposure, including click-throughs, as well as highlighting direct conversions, is essential in demonstrating the value of the activity.

Related: 5 Crucial Ingredients of a Sustainable Paid-Media Strategy

Disadvantages of paid media

Any disadvantages of paid media fall into two basic categories: paid media coverage can have limited credibility and come at a considerable cost.

When establishing trust between a brand and consumers, earned media has the edge over paid media because a third party has filtered messages. However, in many cases, brands use paid media to increase their exposure and gain the notoriety they need to support their earned media efforts.

Consumers understand that paid media effectively delivers the content the brand wants to share. But consumers also know that advertising standards and other regulations bind brands.

The second 'disadvantage' of paid media is the associated cost. Granted, paid media opportunities come at a cost to brands. Especially new brands may find that they only have a limited budget for this media activity. However, since the advent of digital marketing, paid media has become much more affordable for brands of any size. Plus, the amount of insights this data-driven approach delivers tends to result in a sizable return on investment.

Paid media has a place alongside earned and owned media channels in any balanced media strategy. The level of control it affords brand teams, and the growing affordability of digital media outlets can deliver excellent results for brands of any size.

Jessica Wong

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Founder and CEO of Valux Digital and uPro Digital.

Jessica is the Founder and CEO of nationally recognized marketing and PR firms, Valux Digital and uPro Digital. She is a digital marketing and PR expert with more than 20 years of success driving bottom-line results for clients through innovative marketing programs aligned with emerging strategies.

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