Your Owned Media Strategy Will Determine Your Business Success in 2021

Paid advertising continues to take a backseat to quality content. Marketers are shifting their resources to accommodate consumers with high expectations. And the result is a pivot towards owned media strategy.

This mindset is not new. Back in 2014, the Harvard Business Review noted,

“Paid and earned get most of the attention, but the new battleground is going to be owned media. If you want to get ahead, and stay ahead, you need to rethink your owned media strategy.”

A lot has happened in the last six years. Studies show that today’s consumers examine “11.4 pieces of content [on average] before making a purchasing decision.” More importantly, over 85% of consumers begin their buyer’s journey with a Google search.

The data shows that a business’s owned media strategy makes all it’s other marketing initiatives more sustainable and effective.

What’s the Difference Between Paid Media, Earned Media, and Owned Media?

If you’re unfamiliar with terms like owned media, paid media, and earned media, we should take a moment to define our terms.

All three media categories are essential to any marketing strategy. But owned media is foundational to the other two. In other words, neglecting your owned media in favor of paid or earned media could cripple your long-term marketing efforts.


Paid Media

Paid media is all paid advertising. This category includes digital paid ads, such as pay-per-click or video ads on YouTube. Traditional advertising like direct mail, print ads, and TV commercials are also forms of paid media.

Earned Media

Earned media includes any and all positive publicity you receive from the quality of your products and services. 

Digitally, this publicity includes positive reviews, social media tags, and any form of user-generated content. Non-digitally, earned media includes word-of-mouth, press, or any social efforts which boost your brand’s reputation.

Owned Media

Owned media refers to any kind of branded space that you own. This typically includes your website, social media profiles, and any other presence wherein you have primary control over the content.

And while it does cost money to establish an online presence, your owned media channels don’t typically charge you variable rates as do paid advertising mediums. In other words, you’re not paying extra as your owned media channels generate greater success.

What is So Important About an Owned Media Strategy?

How is it fair to say that owned media is foundational to all over forms of earned media or paid advertising? 

The answer to two-fold:

  1. Your owned media is a place to showcase your brand and create a particular impression for your audience.

  2. Today’s information-driven world caters to consumers longing to feel empowered by quality content. And your owned media channels are the best places to offer that content.

The growth of search engine optimization, for instance, demonstrates the priority that brands place on their owned media strategy. And while paid media is effective at generating leads and sales, quality content heightens overall brand awareness, builds trust, and lowers buyer’s remorse among today’s consumers. When it comes to earned media, it’s nearly impossible to achieve it without a solid owned media strategy.

What are the Key Components of a Great Owned Media Strategy?

Web and Mobile Presence

The most important part of your owned media strategy is your web presence. If your brand has a mobile app, then your mobile presence also takes priority over your other channels. 

Your web and mobile presence makes your brand easy for consumers to find. It also gives consumers a place to explore your brand, to include its story, products, and/or services. 

When a prospective customer hears about your brand and sees a paid ad featuring your products/services, that person will most likely comb through your website. Consumers will judge the reliability of any word-of-mouth or paid ads based in large part upon the quality of your online or mobile presence.

That’s why it’s critical that you spend time and resources on your website. DIY websites and apps generally do more harm than good.

Social Media Presence

While you don’t have as much control over your social media presence as you do your website or app, you can curate your profiles to build online communities as owned media. 

Leading social platforms like Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter allow brands to promote their values, products/services, and success stories without having to pay for ads. From an earned media perspective, social media is a great place to convert owned media into earned media.

Email and Phone Number Lists

An often overlooked piece to a solid owned media strategy is subscription lists. Those that have signed up to receive special offers or newsletters have taken an extra step to stay in touch with your brand.

Your subscription lists grow as you learn to deliver more value to your engaged audiences. These members often become the foundation for ongoing user-generated content and earned media.

Critical Owned Media Metrics to Watch in 2021

Using tracking tools like Google Analytics is one of the best ways to judge the effectiveness of your owned media channels. In particular, your key owned media metrics include:

  • Page views

  • Session duration (how long a visitor stayed on a page or post)

  • Click-through rate (CTR)

Recently, Instagram improved its analytics tools for brands/creators to further track social media performance. These key metrics include:

  • Impressions/views

  • Engagement metrics (likes, followers, comments, shares, etc.)

  • CTR

When scaling your subscriber lists, your key metrics demonstrate how your message recipients responded to your content. Email and SMS performance data includes:

  • Open rates

  • Views

  • CTR

In Conclusion

Long-term growth cannot exist without a solid owned media strategy. If you want to build a brand that provides the best shopping or buying experience, it’s critical that you invest in your owned media channels.

Once you’ve established your owned media, you can launch more potent paid advertising campaigns or even invest in earned media through techniques like influencer or experiential marketing. Additionally, tracking your owned media outlets will give you invaluable insights into who your customers are, the problems they’re having, and why your brand appeals to them.