What Is Owned Media? Everything You Need To Know.

What Is Owned Media? Everything You Need To Know.


One of the greatest financial frustrations for many is pouring hard-earned money into rent each month, only to then be left with no ownership – no asset to call their own. In many cases, people are paying off someone else’s mortgage. It sucks. 


And now, we are seeing a similar frustration in the marketing world – companies are renting access to their audience through social media, video hosting platforms, and search networks, or paying for access through search marketing and other digital advertising channels. 


Marketing teams thus lose control of their ability to directly impact pipeline and are beholden to their rented space (Instagram, YouTube, etc.).


So, how can teams regain control of value and impact? 


The answer is Owned Media.


Owned Media is a category of marketing channels that a company has complete control over. 


It includes digital channels such as websites, blogs, and email newsletters, as well as experiential programs such as events and conferences.


Why does it matter? Because you’d rather own your house than rent it, right? 


An Owned Media strategy allows you to put in the time and effort you normally would but gives you control over your audience, rather than hoping an algorithm will be in your favor that month. 

What You’ll Learn:

In this guide, we break down all of the elements of Owned Media that can help restore power to your marketing team. We explain why Paid Media is great as a microphone for your brand but is inefficient and expensive, and how Earned Media is a signal for customer satisfaction, but both require Owned Media to amplify each other. 


By the end, you will be able to understand the benefits of Owned Media, like cost efficiency and trusted distribution, and how to get started with your very own Owned Media strategy – from retrieving audience insights all the way to tracking your metrics. 



Read on to get started.

A breakdown of Owned Media

What is at the core of Owned Media?

Adopting an Owned Media strategy means your brand controls all of your online properties, such as a blog, websites, or social media channels. 


The more channels owned, the larger the digital footprint, leading to direct traffic and greater reach. 


But, Owned Media is less about the media itself and more about relationships. It is a strategy that enables a company to “own” its relationship with its audience, distributing communications to them directly, without relying on third-party vendors or algorithms to facilitate delivery. 


A relationship is considered “owned” when an audience member subscribes directly to the brand by opting into communications.


Why is Owned Media gaining traction now? 

A company’s total marketing strategy typically includes Owned Media, Paid Media (advertising), and Earned Media (press releases).


The renewed focus on Owned Media is primarily driven by the growing inefficiency of Paid and Earned channels:


1. Paid media is becoming less efficient.


Paid media is often the largest line item within the marketing campaign budget, and the one most often scrutinized by Finance. And not without good reason — only 0.9% of paid search traffic converts. 


For companies investing in paid media at scale, finding efficiencies is becoming increasingly challenging.


2. Rented distribution lacks control.


We “rent” audience attention by using third-party algorithms on social media networks like LinkedIn or Twitter, content marketing networks like YouTube or Spotify, and search engines like Google or Bing


This means that our distribution is governed by algorithms outside our control. 


These networks are incentivized to keep engagement on their platforms, which can throttle your reach, suppress links off-property, and hoard your followers.


Companies that embrace an Owned Media strategy become their own content marketing distribution channel. By doing so, distribution costs are effectively reduced to $0, making Owned Media an incredibly efficient marketing program. 


But beyond the dollars and cents, companies who lead with Owned Media can build more authentic relationships with their audience, establish thought leadership, and foster loyalty that converts into sustainable customer relationships.


Owned Media vs. Paid Media vs. Earned Media 

We’ve covered the importance and rise of Owned Media in today’s marketing strategy. But to fully understand its impact on your marketing mix, we need to examine the two other types of media: Paid and Earned. 

What is Paid Media?

Paid media refers to any form of marketing that you pay to promote your business, products, or services. 


This includes traditional and digital media:

  • TV

  • Radio

  • Print ads

  • PPC (Pay-Per-Click)

  • Display ads

  • Social media ads

  • Sponsored content


Paid media is like having a megaphone for your brand’s message. 


It’s when you pay for content to be placed directly in front of target audiences. But with ad spending projected to reach nearly $740 billion in 2024, keep in mind that it’s a long-term and expensive investment.


Think of it as renting space on someone else’s platform to showcase your content — with renting being the key word.


What is Earned Media?

Earned media refers to publicity gained through promotional efforts, such as:


  • Public relations

  • Organic social media engagement

  • Customer reviews

  • Word-of-mouth recommendations

  • Coverage in news outlets


This type of media is essentially any exposure your brand receives that you didn’t directly pay for or create yourself.


This is where every brand wants to be.


It can manifest as social media shares, blog features, or online conversations. Also known as word-of-mouth marketing, earned media is the genuine validation and recognition made through memorable customer experiences and delivering on your brand promise.


What differentiates them all?

Think of earned, owned, and paid media as three pillars of support that uphold a complete digital marketing strategy, with each one providing its own stability:


  • Owned Media puts you in the driver’s seat, with total control over channels.

  • Paid Media fuels your brand’s reach through strategic advertising, expanding your audience.

  • Earned Media is a testament to customer satisfaction, loyalty, and the buzz generated through positive word-of-mouth.


Where do they overlap?


This is where the magic happens. 


(Image by Tribe Media


When you combine the three strategies, with Owned Media taking the lead, they amplify each other, expanding your reach and ability to connect.


By leveraging paid media, you can unleash the potential of your owned content, targeting precise audiences and intensifying visibility.


In turn, earned media becomes the catalyst that boosts your brand’s impact, as satisfied customers and influential voices organically champion your business on your Owned Media platforms.


The Benefits of Owned Media

Consumers demand authenticity and meaningful connections, and Owned Media offers a direct channel to all of your unique content. It’s why so many are starting to see the benefits


  • Content marketing ownership. Probably the most obvious. You can craft a compelling narrative that aligns with your brand values, effectively communicate your USP (Unique Selling Proposition), and differentiate yourself from competitors, all under your control.

  • Trusted distribution. You don’t have to rely on a third-party algorithm to get your message delivered to your audience. With Owned Media, you can ensure that your content is delivered directly to your audience without risk of suppression.

  • Cost efficiency. Unlike paid media strategies, you no longer have to pay to distribute your content to your audience — making it one of the most efficient marketing campaign strategies a company can deploy.

  • Defensible return on investment. Since all engagement data is first-party (direct access to understanding who is engaging with what content), you can quickly attribute the value of that engagement to revenue outcomes rather than inferring it using web analytics software.

  • Long-term value. Unlike paid media that requires continuous investment, Owned Media assets provide long-term value. By consistently producing valuable content, you create lasting connections that build your authority.

  • Flexibility and agility. Owned Media allows you to adapt quickly to market changes and customer needs. Whether it’s updating your website or launching a new product, you have the flexibility to control and tailor your messaging in real time.

  • Relationship building. It allows you to cultivate meaningful customer relationships. By providing valuable content and personalized experiences, you can establish trust, loyalty, and brand advocacy.


Types of Owned Media

There are lots of different types of Paid and Earned Media, but what about the types of Owned Media? 


The two main attributes of Owned Media are channels and content — let’s dive into each set:


  • Website: Typically the blog or resource center.

  • Email: Newsletters, product updates, and nurture programs. 

  • In-Person Events: Conferences, trade shows, or field marketing campaigns.

  • Physical Mail: Newsletters, merch, or other direct mailers.

  • Branded Apps: Granting access to exclusive content, providing valuable tools, or delivering personalized experiences through a branded mobile app. 


  • Articles: Focus on editorial articles rather than SEO articles, or said another way, content written for humans and not algorithms.

  • Videos: Self-hosted videos keep viewers focused on your content with no recommendations or external ads.

  • Podcasts: With self-hosting, you retain complete ownership and flexibility to distribute across the platforms of your choice.

  • Webinars and Digital Events: These platforms offer a chance to share your expertise and establish connections with attendees.

  • Ebooks and Whitepapers: In-depth guides, ebooks, or whitepapers.

  • Online Courses and Training Programs: Cultivate industry knowledge with educational courses or training programs tailored to your market. 

  • Community Forums and Online Groups: Facilitates interaction, nurtures brand loyalty, and fosters a strong sense of belonging among community members.

  • Memes: You can convey your message with impact by utilizing captivating images, infographics, and illustrations (plus, they are a lot of fun).

  • Merch: Selling or giving away merch can create a powerful sense of belonging with your audience. Note that merch is not SWAG — the latter being focused on the brand, while the former is focused on the audience.


As a reminder, social media platforms and video hosting sites like YouTube are absent because these are not Owned Media channels, despite popular belief.


Even though you do control the content you post, you are still building on rented land. Because of this, brands and influencers are realizing that relying solely on social media platforms can expose your business to risks and algorithm changes beyond your control.


Examples of Owned Media in Action

It’s always better to see something in action, right? 


Now that we know what Owned Media is and how to use it, let’s take a look at how some leading companies have executed their Owned Media strategies in the wild.


Example 1. Morning Brew (Email Newsletter)

The Morning Brew’s newsletters are concise, punchy, and packed with insightful business content. They strike the right balance between informative and entertaining, which has allowed them to become a trusted source that keeps readers eagerly awaiting the next email.


Example 2. Gainsight (Events)

Events are a powerful lever in owned media. In many cases, brands spend immense amounts of time, money, and effort on hosting incredible events but miss out on the potential long-term ROI.


Gainsight, a customer success platform, has doubled down on its Owned Media strategy and taken their event recordings and repurposed them into a media brand. 


They launched Pulse Library to house all of their content from a decade of their industry-leading conference. This further solidifies their place as the thought leader for Customer Success and continues building and developing their audience.


Example 3. Lavender (Educational)

Lavender, an AI sales email coach, recently launched LavenderLand, where they create educational and entertaining content for sales professionals. 


They’ve developed content series that provide their audience with actionable insights for immediate use in their daily lives. By infusing their personality into the content, they’ve made it compelling and binge-worthy. 


They don’t just educate their audience but they inspire them to action.

Example 4. Crossbeam (Exclusives)

One of the most effective owned media tactics is exclusive content. 


Crossbeam, an account mapping tool, has done this well with Crossbeam Insider with a large portion of their content being exclusive for subscribers. 


The key here is subscribers get access to their entire library of content. It’s a great experience for the subscriber while allowing the Crossbeam team to grow and develop their audience long before they are prospects. 


This builds trust and affinity towards the Crossbeam brand and keeps their solution top of mind for when an audience member is ready to buy.


Example 5. Hello Sunshine (Community)

The American media company, Hello Sunshine’s purpose is to champion women’s stories and perspectives across various forms of media. 


They leverage their community platforms, such as Reese’s Book ClubUnicorn Space, and Fair Play, to attract individuals who value diverse perspectives, authentic connections, and a sense of belonging.

Getting started with an Owned Media strategy

Getting started requires more than just churning out and promoting content.


To gain buy-in, you must present a solid framework to your stakeholders outlining your strategy and how you will track it. 


Here’s where you can start:


Step 1: Retrieve audience insights. Conduct thorough research to understand your target audience’s demographics, interests, and pain points. Showcase these insights to demonstrate the potential impact of owned media in reaching and engaging your ideal customers.


Step 2: Content mix & distribution. Outline a well-balanced content mix of things like blog articles, whitepapers, ebooks, and case studies. 


Showcase how each content type aligns with different stages of the buyer’s journey. Identify the owned media channels you plan to leverage, such as your website, email lists, self-hosted podcasts, and videos. Then adapt the content to suit different formats and channels to maximize impact.


Step 3: Metrics and measurement. Develop SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals with a measurement framework encompassing KPIs relevant to your business objectives. Identify how you will track metrics like website traffic, conversion rates, engagement levels, and lead quality.


Step 4: Attract your initial audience. Leverage your existing customer base, email lists, and social media followers to kickstart your owned media presence. Then you will want to:

  • Encourage engagement.

  • Ask for feedback.

  • Create content that adds value to their lives. 

  • Optimize your owned media SEO to improve discoverability. 

  • Promote your content through social media posts and relevant communities. 

  • Collaborate with industry influencers, thought leaders or complementary brands.


Step 5: Embrace external voices. Explore how influencer marketing, creators, and people outside your company can influence your owned media strategy. 


Collaborate with them to create content, host webinars, or feature them as guest contributors to bring fresh perspectives and widen your audience.


Step 6: Regularly review your strategy. Owned media strategies should be dynamic and adaptable. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach, you should evaluate your plan regularly to ensure it’s meeting your goals. Quarterly, semi-annual, or even annual reviews are standard, along with times of significant changes in your industry. Stay on top of emerging trends, technologies, and content formats to remain relevant.



Owned Media metrics and KPIs

How you determine your metrics and KPIs largely depends on the strategies at play. But there are consistent benchmarks to focus on when measuring paid, owned, and earned media performance.


Here are some tips and key metrics to evaluate:

Measuring owned media performance

Tracking owned media performance depends on the specific channel. 


Each channel has unique metrics that offer relevant insights into its performance. By tailoring your tracking approach, you can comprehensively understand their individual performance.


For example, AudiencePlus provides various tools to measure owned media performance. They allow you to gain insight into the content that genuinely captivates your audience at individual and account levels, enabling you to make informed decisions. 


The Audience Engagement Score, for example, is a crucial indicator of audience health, and a leading metric for your sales pipeline.

Metrics to track owned media

  • Site Traffic

  • Page Views

  • Bounce Rate

  • Unique Visitors

  • Email Open Rate

Measuring paid media performance

Gauging the effectiveness of paid media boils down to tracking ROI. 


Data analysis using advertising platforms and web analytics tools provides valuable insights into campaign performance and cost efficiency.

Metrics to track paid media

  • Cost Per Click

  • Click-Through Rate

  • Conversion Rates

  • Return on Ad Spend

Measuring earned media performance

The goal of measuring earned media performance is to assess the impact and effectiveness of organic publicity. Tracking key metrics supplies valuable insights into how your brand resonates with the audience and public perception.

Metrics to track earned media

  • Mentions

  • Social Shares

  • Impressions

  • Engagement Rate

  • Referral Traffic



Risks and challenges of Owned Media

The biggest challenge of using a predominantly Owned Media strategy boils down to one thing: time. 


It requires a lot of resources and effort to produce high-quality and relevant content consistently. Additionally, vying for attention and visibility among fierce competition from other brands adds another layer of complexity.


Nevertheless, these challenges are not impossible to overcome with the right approach. Let’s break it down:

Content quality and consistency:

  • Assess. Are you producing high-quality and relevant content consistently? How can you maintain a consistent brand voice and messaging across various owned media channels?

  • Approach. Develop a content strategy that aligns with your target audience’s needs and preferences. Establish content creation guidelines, editorial calendars, and approval processes to ensure consistency.

Audience engagement:

  • Assess. How do you attract, engage, and monetize your target audience without losing trust? Are you effectively growing your audience and building a loyal community?

  • Approach. Utilize tactics like SEO optimization, social media post promotion, email marketing campaigns, and influencer marketing to expand your reach and engage your audience. Monitor analytics and gather feedback to refine.

Measurement and ROI:

  • Assess. How do you measure the success and ROI of your owned media efforts? Can you effectively demonstrate the business value generated by your owned media investments?

  • Approach. Define clear metrics and KPIs aligned with your marketing objectives. Leverage analytics platforms like AudiencePlus to track and measure the impact of your owned media on website traffic, engagement, conversions, and customer retention. 

Platform dependence:

  • Assess. Are you relying too heavily on a single platform for owned media distribution?

  • Approach. Diversify your owned media channels and platforms to reduce reliance on a single entity. Invest in building a robust website and email list, and explore other distribution channels that align with your audience’s preferences.

Keeping pace with tech:

  • Assess. Are you staying updated with evolving trends, new tech, and shifts in audience behavior? How can your owned media strategy be adapted to leverage emerging platforms and tools?

  • Approach. Monitor industry trends, invest in research and learning, and leverage data and analytics to inform your decision-making. Embrace innovation and be open to experimenting with new technologies and approaches.



Investing In An Owned Media Platform

While Martech stacks have tools to measure paid and earned media, they often struggle to capture the impact of Owned Media.


Without clear metrics and insights, the true impact of Owned Media on all your marketing efforts like, brand awareness, customer engagement, and revenue generation is challenging to demonstrate tangibly and can lead to some tough conversations with your CFO. 


AudiencePlus however, addresses these challenges head-on. 


It’s the only owned media software for marketers and offers a comprehensive suite of tools that enables you to go beyond surface-level metrics like impressions and views.


A key feature that resonates with users and CFOs is the Audience Engagement Score


Why? Because it’s a leading indicator for the sales pipeline.


This metric indicates your audience’s health by mapping custom journeys by account or subscriber, so you can illustrate how owned media contributes to lead generation, customer acquisition, and overall revenue growth. 


This level of visibility into the customer journey and its impact on the bottom line is invaluable and something unattainable through rented channels.


Ready to take back control of your audience? Request a demo for AudiencePlus today and be at the forefront of revolutionizing your Owned Media strategy.



Anthony Kennada | About the Author

Founder and CEO, AudiencePlus

Prior to founding AudiencePlus, Anthony served as the CMO of incredible companies like Hopin and Front. He was the founding CMO of Gainsight where he and his team are credited with creating the Customer Success category -- a novel business imperative, profession and software category that helps subscription companies grow sustainably by becoming customer obsessed. By focusing on human first community building, content marketing, live events and creative activations, they developed a new playbook for B2B marketing that built the Gainsight brand and fueled the company’s growth from $0 to $100M+ ARR, and eventual acquisition by Vista Equity at a $1.1B valuation. You can follow him here.


What Is Owned Media? Everything You Need To Know.

Learn how to define and leverage owned media with AudiencePlus. Dive into strategies, examples, and best practices in our comprehensive guide.

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