The title of this blog post is the same as a report by Initiative. The report, among others shown at the Cannes Lions festival, calls upon marketers to rethink the whole concept of paid, earned and owned media as we’ve been using it for quite some time now.

The distinction between the three forms of media has always been a bit confusing and overlapping. But that’s what we love to do all too often in marketing: put everything in a silo or stick a label to it. While the distinction makes sense for us, marketers, the reality of a fragmented media landscape is that the consumer is channel-agnostic and media-agnostic.

What matters most is an integrated view on the different touchpoints and find the right mix of content and “experiences” across each touchpoint.

As Initiative Media says in the press release “give consumers an experience, not a rotation of messages”. Exactly, even if the consumer “defines” – or better: lives – his own experiences and we can merely try to optimize them across touches with our brands.

There’s nothing wrong with splitting between different sorts of media but, to quote the report’s author, Jeffrey Graham: “The risk with adopting paid, earned and owned is that another set of categories can simply create a new set of silos”. Think touchpoints first.

A small reminder about what the three “types of media” stand for (and they will converge): below is an overview, made by Forrester Research in 2009 in a blog post “Defining Earned, Owned And Paid Media“.

Forrester on owned paid and earned media
Forrester on owned paid and earned media

Time to create a holistic loop, based on the consumer reality and a proper mix, without losing ourselves in the silos. Below you can read the Initiative report. And here’s a blog post by Belgian colleague Hugues Rey, formerly at Initiative Media on “How Social Media Is Changing Paid, Earned & Owned Media“, with additional views.


Originally posted on Marketing Advisor and moved as part of a topical integration of our blogs and media.