Paid, Earned, Owned: Early Signs Of Dementia

I just read my 2,500th column/story about the differences between Paid Media, Earned Media and Owned Media. I normally would never capitalize those terms -- but everyone else does, because they think it makes them Really Important.  (Honestly, I feel Really Important just starting my column with them.) I am not sure, but having reached the 2,500 milestone I think I get a merit badge, some frequent flier miles or a CD of Randy Rothenberg’s rants against default browser privacy settings from the OPA or the IAB or Somebody who thinks this discussion is worth having over and over and over again.

Clearly, authors and editors think that you haven "gotten it" yet, perhaps due to some of those early Alzheimer's symptoms in the news this week: If you walk into the kitchen and can't remember what Earned Media is, see your doctor.

I recall with fondness the days when media was pretty simple: TV, newspapers, magazines and radio. Then the guys who sold those tacky billboards that reminded us how many more miles until we reached "South of the Border" decided that "outdoor media" had a little more class than "eyesore," and the confusion began. Pretty soon there was place-based media, then new media, then broadcast vs cable media, then digital media, then social media. Christ, there is even a town called Media in Pennsylvania (or is it Illinois? See your doctor). But whatever it was, you had to pay to put an ad on it. Well, except social media -- even though they began to sell "ads" too, making them either Paid or Earned Media, I'm never sure which.



This was about the same time that content went from being a table in the front of your book to just about anything anyone felt like "creating" -- although since the dawn of the Internet, we have come to define that term quite broadly. Now everybody who wants to be an industry insider calls everything from TV shows to blogs "content" because it makes them seem Really Important.  Nobody writes or produces anything anymore -- they "create content." This could mean anything from a 700-page book to a 30-second video of someone getting smacked in the cajones by a fencepost. But content is now media, isn't it? Not really sure.

The concept of Earned Media seems pretty straight-ahead. It's like a makegood, right? You failed to satisfy my order for GRPs, so I have earned some more airtime. Or, I choose to receive my allowance for taking out the garbage in media space like a page in a magazine (well, these days, 10 or 15 pages in a magazine). So after I earn it, and I get it, I now own it (at least until I use it) -- so it is Owned Media, right?

Back when a few families owned all the big media companies (and didn't need Mexicans or Arabs or worse, real estate guys, to bail them out) it was pretty clear what Owned Media was. But these days everyone wants to claim they have Owned Media because it makes them, well, Really Important. Now, this doesn't mean they own printing presses and delivery trucks or transmission towers and those cool animated weather maps, it means they are trying to "create content" or something they can call media (even if audiences are not likely to want to read "25 Ways to Apply Band-Aids") so they can tell their boards that they also got lots of Earned Media because of the Owned Media.

Got it? If not, see your doctor.









2 comments about "Paid, Earned, Owned: Early Signs Of Dementia".
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  1. Catherine Wachs from Right Brain, July 19, 2013 at 9:24 a.m.

    I just made an appointment to see a specialist. Thanks for a great article.

  2. Ed Fitzelle from Info Pub Advisors, July 23, 2013 at 8 a.m.

    I can't get an appointment with my Dr. He's too busy creating content.

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