How to Plan Owned, Earned and Paid Media for B2B Content Marketing

Content promotion using paid, owned and earned media.

Your content is useless when no one is engaging with it. So you’ll need a combination of media to draft your communication strategy. The dividing lines between earned, paid and owned media are not 100% definitive. An overlap exists in numerous areas, such as:

  • Owned media is promoted via paid media.
  • Owned media is optimized for earned media.
  • Earned media is responded to via owned media.
  • Positive earned media can be promoted via paid media.
  • Social media advertising can be engaged via earned media.

A recurring factor when considering the use of media channels is the tension field between reach and control. Reach means the number of people reached via the channel. Of course, it primarily concerns itself with people who are potential DMU members for the products and solutions that are being sold. Control involves the measure of influence that the organization can have in the presentation of the message or content.

Looking at the different media options, the advantage of owned media is optimal control. The message, the design, the tone of voice and the format are completely in the hands of the organization. The flipside to this is that the reach is limited mainly to existing relations. To generate new business, it’s vital to involve paid and earned media.

control over owned, paid and earned media

Traditionally, paid media was always seen as the most obvious media channel. The rise of social media and content marketing has given owned media and earned media a bigger share in the mix. Owned media is growing because of the increasing value placed by organizations on the production of valuable and relevant content. Earned media is gaining attention due to its potentially huge reach using the relatively low threshold involved in social media, blogs and communities. In practice, though, it’s still very difficult to run effective, large-scale campaigns without involving paid media in some sort of capacity.

owned media strategy

Beside looking at media as either owned, earned and paid, it can also be looked at from a push and pull approach. With push communication, the sender determines the content and the timing of the message. If you receive a weekly e-newsletter, then you know beforehand what the editorial team will have in store for you and when it’s going to land in your inbox. In pull communication, the initiative is with the receiver of the communications. For example, you can search for a certain topic on Google and arrive at a relevant publication that way.

Pull: unsolicited presented content (requested) Push: unsolicited presented content (with permission)
Owned SEO (search engine optimization) Newsletter
Paid SEA (search engine advertising) Advertorials

In content marketing, pull and push mechanisms have their pros and cons. A big advantage of the pull mechanism is that visitors are searching for a specific topic. When they find it, the conversion from site visit to lead is high as the correlation between the visitor’s interest and content offered is significant. The big drawback of the pull mechanism is that the number of people who search at random moments for a certain topic is relatively low. The advantage of push media is that within a short amount of time you can achieve a large reach with a quick response. The disadvantage of push media is that since the communication is initiated by the sender, the receiver will not always be open to this communication.

When planning media, it is sensible to take into account the differences in response expectation. This is particularly relevant for the follow-up. When you provide white paper downloads in a newsletter but during the week that the newsletter is sent there is insufficient time for follow-up, then you’re missing the boat. Leads fall behind quickly and quickly become irrelevant.

However, when you offer one or more white papers on multiple portals that are designed for search engine marketing, people will continuously request them. The follow-up process should be the continuous filtering of leads.

building search traffic

When setting up the media, you should combine push and pull mechanisms. Many content marketing initiatives start by posting content via their own media, such as their blog or in the knowledge section of their website which gets picked up by search engines – this pull gets you traffic over time. To have direct traffic on your content you can add push mechanisms, like your newsletter and direct promotion in paid media.