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It’s never that easy.

A popular model to describe today’s media landscape is to classify different media channels as paid, owned and earned.

Paid, owned, and earned media.
A simple yet effective model.
  • Paid channels include advertising, sponsorships and ambassador collaborations.
  • Owned channels include newsletters, websites, and publications for internal or external use.
  • Earned channels include news articles, influencer endorsements, and word-of-mouth.

Crystal clear, right? Well, enter social media. These types of channels defy classification in an almost elegant way. Allow brand activities on Facebook to illustrate this:

Facebook (paid): When you advertise your brands, products, and services on Facebook, it falls under marketing (i.e. programmatic advertising).

Facebook (owned): When you “own” a Facebook Page and publish editorial content, it falls under communications (i.e. social media publishing).

Facebook (earned): When people talk about or with your brand and share your messages among themselves on Facebook, it falls under communications (i.e. community management).

As a consequence, many brands struggle to decide who’s responsible for what when it comes to digital marketing and communications. And, to make matters even more complex, some experts now argue that we need a fourth type of channel class, borrowed:

Different types of media.
The suggested new classification of media channels.

The argument is that you’re only “borrowing” your Facebook page since Facebook can decide to change the game whenever and however they want. Given Facebook Zero, this makes some sense.

However, I’m not completely convinced. Yes, there’s a difference in platform control between a social account and a web page, but is this enough to warrant changing an otherwise beautiful model?

The classic paid-owned-earned media model is up for a revision. Due to social media, experts suggest we add ‘borrowed media’ to the model.

Photo by Tom Crew on Unsplash.

Do you think it’s a good idea to add “borrowed” to the model — or are we just adding unnecessary complexity? Please share in the comment section.