Earned media is content that spread throughout a business’s market because due to its value and popularity. Examples of Earned Media are PR, Social Media Followings, SEO position, Word of Mouth (WoM), and others. With Earned Media, the brand does not own the channels that it is being delivered through, rather it earns the following or recognition due to being there (i.e. A Brand does not own Facebook, but can earn a following). Earned Media is important due to the reach of these media channels, the indirect sales approach, and the indirect relationship between cost and outcome (i.e. a business could spend very little and get a lot, however the inverse can be true as well).
Earned Media differs from Owned Media in that the ownership of the channel belongs to another media and the rules of engagement can be changed at any point. A publisher can remove a business’s press release at any time or not run it at all. Social media companies, like Facebook, can abruptly change their algorithm to reduce a business’s reach to their Earned Following. Search Engine ranking factors can be changed to drop a business’s position in Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).