In an August 19th, 2011 post to his blog, Jeff Bulas asks "Is the Best Digital Marketing Earned, Owned or Bought?"
Because you're a busy reader - I'll cut to Jeff Bulas' conclusion: "The optimum approach is to combine all three to provide a synergistic approach that is greater than the sum of its parts."
If you're interested in the fine points (like what the terms earned, owned and bought mean in this context) - and why a synergistic approach, that takes into account the particular needs of your unique film and audience, might be best - read on for definitions and discussion:
Owned Media is marketing that spreads through a channel that a brand owns.
Bought Media is where a brand pays to participate (usually on someone else's channel).
Earned Media is the term marketers use for activities (make no mistake, usually paid for) that encourage users to become active in ways that support marketing.
Most commonly, the term "earned media" is used to describe a New World kind of marketing where marketers strive to engage an audience to the point where that audience becomes the channel that spreads the marketing message.
To use yet another buzzword to define a buzzword (I realize this sentence might not be very helpful to those who are new to social media marketing jargon, but in context, I think you should be able to get a better sense of what I'm driving at), you can think of earned media as "crowd sourced" marketing.
Basically, earned media is any campaign where the marketer spends money and time creating marketing messages that are aimed at getting the ball rolling - but the spread of that message relies on what is known as "viral spread." And by "viral spread" marketers mean that the message travels outward among unpaid volunteers who are sharing the message with their social network for their own reasons (often because the message contains useful or entertaining content).
A successful earned media campaign is one where potential customers learn about you and share your message. Often this spread occurs via a click (on a "share" or "like" button).
Activating the power of social media may sound ideal. And it can be cheap. But it's rarely easy.
Which gets us back to Jeff Bulas' answer to the question - which one is best?
To quote Mr. Bulas:
"Which is the Best Marketing Media for Your Brand?"
"This will come down to your goals. If you have objectives that require immediate results then bought media is your best option. If you have time and you want to build a long term asset that will keep producing sales and enquiries then earned media will be your best option. If you want keep costs down and have time to invest in building your on-line assets then your owned media channels are where you should be investing your time and dollars."
To conclude where we began:
"The optimum approach is to combine all three to provide a synergistic approach that is greater than the sum of its parts."