Season 4, Episode 3
Paid, Owned, & Earned Media for B2B Marketing

Sep 29, 2023

On today’s episode of Marketing Matters, Morgan and Sarah are diving into the powerful trio of paid, owned, and earned media. We break down what each term means, why these distinctions are vital for your media strategy, and the pros and cons of each type. Join us today to tailor your media strategy to your specific needs, whether you are a beginner or a marketing pro.

When credibility matters (like it always does in B2B marketing), who is spreading the message matters just as much as what they are saying. That is where paid, owned, and earned media comes in.

On today’s episode of Marketing Matters, Morgan and Sarah are diving into the powerful trio of paid, owned, and earned media. We break down what each term means, why these distinctions are vital for your media strategy, and the pros and cons of each type. Join us today to tailor your media strategy to your specific needs, whether you are a beginner or a marketing pro.


  • What is the difference between paid, owned, and earned media, and why does it matter in B2B marketing?
  • Why is credibility such an important differentiator?
  • What are the pros and cons of each strategy, and how do I know which fits the best with my current strategy?
  • Once I choose a media strategy, how do I start?

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Marketing Matters is brought to you by ADV Marketing  

We’re excited to be bringing you this podcast produced by our company, ADV Marketing. ADV Marketing develops high-quality and cost-effective marketing materials for a wide range of businesses. Our relationship-driven business model and customized marketing solutions makes us the perfect partner for small businesses looking to grow. I’m Sarah, creative director of Marketing. Join me here with the rest of my team on marketing matters every other Monday to discuss business-to-business marketing topics. Now let’s get into the episode.

Hey guys, welcome to Marketing Matters, a podcast where we discuss all things marketing related and how it applies to your business. I’m one of your hosts.

Sarah is joining me as well.
Yes, Hi, guys. I’m here. Yeah.

And today we have a really fun topic because I feel like this is a good internal marketing.

Where do I start?

And that’s differentiating paid, owned and earned media and B2B marketing. So, Sarah, do you want to kind of give a brief overview about like the media strategy behind that?

Yeah, I mean. So when we’re talking about paid owned and earned media, those are really important distinctions to know in your media strategy because they all have different pros and cons and they all play a different part in the strategy that you’re putting together for your business, especially in B2B. And we’re going to talk about why these in particular are important to consider for B2B marketing strategies in a second.

But main thing to know is that the main differentiator for these three types of media is credibility.

So we know based off of previous podcasts that we’ve done and then just basic tenets of B2B marketing credibility, interest is huge.

It’s all about building trust for your clients. So it’s important to know which of these channels and which of these types of media helps you build credibility and how you can use them to your advantage and why you shouldn’t use one over another if you have certain objectives.

Mm hmm. Yeah. And I’m going to highlight that.

I feel like a lot of clients come to us and we’re trying to start their marketing strategy and we tell them they need more credible sources. They don’t know what we’re talking about. So knowing how that plays in is really important.

And also, I’ll add that a lot of times clients come to us and they’re like, they’re hesitant to post on their own channels, which that’s owned.

Spoiler alert, it’s owned media, but it really does play a part. Like there’s a reason owned media is a well-known avenue of a media strategy, and it can play a certain role in media. And if you’re not using owned, you are missing a big channel in your media strategy.

Mm hmm. Sure. Okay. So I guess we’re going to go and get started and just go through like the pros and cons and what each type is.

So paid media that when you think of, like, anything advertising related is typically paid media, and that’s where you’re paying to promote your business. So you’re doing ads on LinkedIn or Facebook and the opposite of that, it’s going to be organic or owned content. So do you want to introduce a little bit more about paid media?

Yeah. So paid media is usually what people think about when they think of like promotion or advertising or marketing. And it is spoiler. The least credible of the various media types out of paying owned interns. And that’s because you’re paying to be in front of people. So when consumers come across paid media, one immediately obvious, right? Like everyone scrolling through TikTok immediately knows when it’s an ad and they can see the little sponsored thing. And I mean you have to label it sponsored that’s part of the rules behind paid media is it has to be labeled as such to protect consumer rights. But that means that you can’t pass off something that’s paid to me in front of a consumer as something that just came up on their feed.

So that can be kind because we’re kind of trained mental. You just immediately ignore ads because they’re just filtered out of our daily lives. And that’s for anything that can be not just digital. I mean, how many times do we drive past billboards and we don’t even pay attention to what they say? It’s just a natural filter that we’ve been building up as a human species.

When all of this content is being thrown at us through various channels. So there’s a lot of cons to paid, but paid also tends to have the most resources available to you for the analysis part. So because you’re paying a platform to promote certain pieces of content they’re giving you in exchange all the analytics and the insights that they can out of that. So when you do something like a LinkedIn ad campaign, for example, you get to see who looked, well, not people because there are privacy rules. They can see which companies job titles. What they did with that, if it was a legion form, you get their lead information, just things like that.

So lots of pros and cons. Would you agree with that brief summary?

Yeah. One thing that I notice a lot about paid out is you get a lot of awareness and face time with your consumers, but the turnover rate for that is really small because you’re seeing it in your it’s on your screen and then you’re swiping past it like you’re not going to actually go to the link because it kind of seems a little scammy sometimes.

Mm hmm. Yeah. The conversion rates are definitely lower. And that’s, again, the credibility part, right? If you’re being if you’re paying to be in front of someone, then they they know that and then they’re like, I don’t know the merits of what you’re putting in front of them aren’t.

What got you there in terms of getting in front of their attention. So those are the cons definitely a role to play, right? I would say out of all three of these, we actually use paid the least in our media strategies, which I don’t know if that’s a hot take or not.

In B2B marketing, I don’t know, but we don’t really use paid a ton. We usually use like organic owned, organic slash owned and earned and paid plays a role. If we have certain specific objectives. I would say, and it’s definitely like a time and a place for it, like, yeah, we have clients that we do do a few paid campaigns for because it fits their strategy. So just know what you want to get out of it before you go towards one of these options.


So next we’re going to go with the opposite of paid media, and that’s owned media.

So that’s basically organic. It’s a lot of the content you see companies creating on their personal LinkedIn or profiles as well as just like articles and blog posts on the website. That is also owned media.

So you want to talk about the pros and cons for that?

Yeah, I will say, just to start out that if paid makes up like five to 10% of what we do in terms of media plans, owned makes up like 80. Like it’s a lot of what we do for our clients in the B2B space. It is a huge asset to B2B marketers because you own the channels and also you can take advantage of organic content, which is free to post, is not free in terms of creating, I mean, like timing, resources go into creating that content, but it is free to place it.

And then if you have the right content that speaks to the right people, then that’s what drives the attention.

It has a little bit more credibility than paid because you are earning people’s attention, right?

Like the algorithms that LinkedIn or Google has on its platforms, they promote content that will help its users because they want users to stay longer. So if you’re meeting those criteria, then that’s what puts you in front of people. So it has a little bit more credibility just because you are.

You have to work harder for that attention. If you earn it, then you really earn it.

For cons, though, I mean, it’s still a business, still talking to consumers, right? So it’s still a promotion and you’re still pushing content out to people that you want them to hear. And it still looks like an ad. So it’s not like I don’t know, it’s not like actual fact. I don’t know how to explain it, but it’s an ad still because it’s coming from your company or your brand, But it is a little bit better than that paid ad.

I would say I’m more open to owned media video as I first of all, just working in marketing. I know how much effort you can create.


It’s not easy. Appreciate that.

And then I feel like a lot of it is fun to advise and expert takes. So it kind of gives me something more than an ad can give me a payday. I will say that it matters a lot what your brand equity is. So if you’ve built up your brand as a knowledge source, then you’ve already earned the credibility from your customers and they will treat your content as really valuable because that is an objective that you set out from the beginning and you’re earning their respect and their trust and the credibility in that way. But you had to have built that like it takes a long time to build that reputation.

But at that point, your own media has extreme power, which is great because then you’re posting for free on all these platforms. You just have to maintain your level of quality.

Yeah, and that’s a good segue way into our last type of media, which is earned.

Yes. How that kind of it’s your third party promotion.

No, you’re not paying anyone to talk about your brand, but it’s popping up either in the news or like good ways.

Testimonials. People just saying like, Hey, I worked with so-and-so at this company.

I really think that they’d be a good connection for you.


So what are the pros and cons of that, Sarah?

That okay, first of all, huge, huge boost in credibility 100%. If you have someone outside of your company talking about how great your company is, like literally everyone wants that. Every company knows how valuable that is.

Word of mouth is basically earned media, right? Because you’re earning the trust and respect of your customers or a third party person, trade publication, whatever it is, and then they’re promoting your business for free. You don’t have to pay them to do this, and they’re promoting it to other people.

That is the dream.

Basically, a lot of this comes through networking with people making sure that they know about you, that they know your value, that you do good work.

To begin with, the best way to earn earned media is just to do great work. And then people talk about that other avenues in doing this, and we’ll talk a little bit more about how to get started and earn just like writing for trade publications and getting published in that, doing research papers, conferences like things like that.

And then you can also leverage that earned media on your own owned media platform, if you like, earned an own sounds so similar, but you’re earned can be promoted on your own media buy and then like leverage that attention and other ways.

I would even say that you can kind of take that earned media like if you’re getting recognized by news outlet or some association and that can play into your paid campaign and say like, yeah, nominated for this award or yeah this and use that in your strategy as well.

Yes and that’s a really good way to combat one of the cons of paid which is less credibility than the other ones.

So you definitely have the high credibility of earned for sure. And this one, this is kind of even going into like the public relations piece of B2B marketing, which depending on how big you are, what resources or what services you provide, just things like that.

Depending on your business, public relations might play a big role in what you do. Public relations is a lot of leveraging earned media, knowing how to refine the messaging on the earned media, and then what that effect has on your business. So that’s something to consider in general.

So now that we’ve kind of walk you through the three main types.

We’re going to take a short break here. And when we get back, we’re going to tell you how to get started. If you want to do paid, owned or earned media.

Welcome back from the break, guys.

So we’re gonna continue our discussion on paid owned media.

So Sarah, now that they know and they may be wanting to get started and they’re thinking, you know what, I really want to do a paid campaign, I think that the pros outweigh the cons. I think it’s a great idea for my strategy.


How would they get started?

Well, for paid. Okay, I’m going to do this from a B2B marketing lens like I always do for paid content.

I would really say that LinkedIn is your best bet. Over and over, we’ve seen the best conversion rate on LinkedIn. You could try search ads or Google, anything like that, but we just don’t see the returns on that as much as LinkedIn because LinkedIn can get so targeted. So not only are you investing in paid, but you’re also making sure that your investment pays off because it’s going to who you want it to go to, whereas other channels might have a lot of waste coverage, which is a real fear and a real concern for paid media. So LinkedIn is usually the best bet.

You always want to make sure that your paid media is not just in and that people will skip through. So you’ll just get a ton of impressions and no conversions. You actually want to make sure that it’s still valuable.

At the at the first half of this episode, we talked about incorporating like the earned media. It’s kind of come back to credibility issues like showcase your awards, your testimonials, showcase proof that you are who you say you are because you’re paying to be in front of them.

So show them your worth their attention, basically.

Yeah. So that’s how I get started with that.

My other recommendation for the LinkedIn ads, and we talked about this earlier in the season and our B2B ads episode, but for some reason, the slider LinkedIn ads, they just like drop everyone in. Like if you just want to go through them.

So if you’re looking for a content type, I highly recommend a slider.

Yes, just in general, watch that podcast if you’re interested in starting with paid.

Yeah, definitely.


So what about oh, and how would they get started with that?

Oh my gosh. Okay.

I kind of alluded to this fact when we were talking about what is owned slash organic media. It is all about developing your reputation and making sure you’re putting out valuable stuff, like you’re developing relationships in this situation.

So you want to make sure that you’re putting the amount of effort that that requires. And owned media is no different. You want to make sure you develop a content plan for that because that is the best way that you can keep track of the resources, the time, the investment.

You’re making sure that all of those pieces are well spent across a long time frame because if you’re doing owned only like little snippets at a time, like you’re like I’m going to have on media for this week, that’s not that’s not the point where that’s going to have the return that you want for your media strategy.

So make sure that you’re planning long term and you’re using a content plan to do that, and then you’re not rushing into one project, stopping, forgetting about your content channels, starting again in four months, and then rushing one project and then not doing again for another six months. That is not the ideal owned media strategy.

Make sure you have a plan in place.

Plan first.

Yeah, like really consistency. Is definitely key.

And for me, just like on the consumer side of it, if I go to the company and I see they have like really cool resources and they haven’t updated it for like two years, it kind of upsets me because I’m like, Well, what are you doing now that you can’t have all these good articles and resources for me to get help with?

Yeah. Like, yeah, if you just drop off the face of the earth. What’s going on?

Yeah. And then you’re like, not accessible, because if you’re not posting on your website, then I can’t use your website as a means to contact you because obviously you don’t check it.

That is the worst case scenario.

I will also say that owned is to give you concrete examples is website, LinkedIn, Facebook.

If you use it, Twitter, if you use it or excuse me x. X if you use it, they do call it X, right?

I don’t know if it’s the thing. I feel like it has no name.

Yeah, I wasn’t a big Twitter user in the first place, but that does turn me off because I’m like, who would say, Oh, I’m on X?

I know.

But anyway, if you’re on X, make sure that you use all of the channels that make sense for your audience and then make sure you plan in place for all those good channels.

But like we have so many podcast resource episodes about content planning that you can look through, that’s kind of a first step to getting started with own media.

And also our website has articles.

It does. So go check that out too.

Because we are also investing in our owned media strategy. So you can see that in real time.

Okay. Lastly, earned.

I’m like, this is kind of the hardest to get started with because it really takes a lot of work.


Which is why it has the credibility that we talked about. This has a lot to do with you, is just doing good work in general and making sure you have a firm platform for convincing other people to talk about you because they’re laying their reputation on the line talking about you. So you want to be worthwhile to lay that reputation on the line for.

So with that focus on quality and value with everything and do not treat it as a sales activity, which sounds weird, but people are immediately turned off. If the only reason you’re there is to get money from them. And even if that is the case, don’t act like it. Like act like it is the reciprocation going on. There’s some kind of exchange going on, even if that means sharing knowledge.

If you’ve ever read the storybrand book by Donald Miller, he always says like he’s never concerned about oversharing information because he has always seen more return out of it than any loss. So have that mentality when you’re pursuing earned media, if you’re only doing paid and owned, which I wouldn’t necessarily like promote to like, I wouldn’t recommend that for your business. But if you’re only doing paid in loans, then yeah, you can really control how much information you’re sharing.

But the biggest impact really is earnings. It’s really like if you get re-published by reputable sources and in order to do that you have to provide value, which is sharing information.

Yeah, I kind of you earn is like the Yelp review instances like you got to think about it in the way of like you go to this new restaurant before you go, you want to look at all the reviews and it’s it’s terrible. You’re like, I’m not going to waste my time with it. But if their, like, service was above and beyond, it was exceptional. We came a little bit later and they still see it as like. Yeah, that’s going to do wonders. Do the equivalent equivalent of that for your business and you will earn your earned media also, right? Like the publications and the articles and the putting out of the trade things on the various platforms that industry peers look at for knowledge sources.

That’s where you want to be. And so if you write your thoughts down, if you write your insights down, that is what can get published webinars are also something that could potentially be earned.

It’s a little bit harder. You have to know some people and you have to get connections which you know, businesses connections.

So maybe that’s what you want to put your efforts words and there’s lots of ways you can do it, but writing down is an easy first step.

Yes, I think that’s a good ending point to these episodes, so be sure to subscribe and rate the podcast and we will see you in two weeks for our next episode.

See y’all.

Bye, guys.

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