What is Paid Media and How Does it Work?

Paid media is a type of digital marketing strategy that involves paying to display ads on various platforms such as search engines, social media, and other websites - like renting space on someone else's platform to get your message out there. Paid media includes pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, display advertising, social media advertising, and sponsored content. In simpler terms, it's like paying for a billboard or a TV commercial to promote your business.

Grayvault Staff
October 13, 2023

Paid media is a type of digital marketing strategy that involves paying to display ads on various platforms such as search engines, social media, and other websites - like renting space on someone else's platform to get your message out there. Paid media includes pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, display advertising, social media advertising, and sponsored content. In simpler terms, it's like paying for a billboard or a TV commercial to promote your business. 

In this article, we'll explore what paid media is, the different types of paid media, and the differences between paid, earned, and owned media. We'll also share some best practices for using paid media to get the most out of your advertising budget. So, whether you're a small business owner or a marketing professional, this guide will help you understand the ins and outs of paid media and how it can benefit your business.

What is Paid Media?

Paid media refers to any marketing effort that contains a paid placement. It is a type of digital marketing where businesses pay to display their ads on various platforms such as search engines, social media, and other websites. Paid media includes PPC advertising, display advertising, social media advertising, and sponsored content. These are an essential component of revenue growth and brand awareness for online businesses. It is one of the quickest ways to drive traffic and can work in tandem with earned and owned media to help an online business grow. The goal of paid media is to drive traffic to a website or landing page and increase conversions.

What are the Different Types of Paid Media?

There are several subcategories under paid media, including both online and offline channels. Here we will explore the main types of paid media. We will also give you some paid media examples and how they work within an overall media strategy:

PPC Advertising

PPC advertising is a type of paid media that involves paying for each click on an ad. It is an online advertising model in which advertisers pay each time a user clicks on one of their online ads. There are different types of PPC ads, but one of the most common types is the paid search ad, which appears when people search for things online using a search engine like Google or Bing. 

PPC ads come in different shapes and sizes, and can be made up of text, images, videos, or a combination. They can appear on search engines, websites, social media platforms, and more. PPC advertising enables marketers to reach internet users on a number of digital platforms through paid ads and is a popular form of paid media because it allows businesses to target specific keywords and demographics. Marketers can set up PPC campaigns on Google, Bing, and other platforms. Bing PPC ads work similarly to Google ads, and both platforms can be used together for maximum results.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)

SEM is a type of paid media that involves paying to display ads on search engines. Examples include Google Ads and Bing Ads. SEM is a powerful form of paid media because it allows businesses to target specific keywords and demographics, and it can drive traffic to a website or landing page quickly. SEM is a highly cost-effective way to promote products and grow a business and should be a fundamental part of an online marketing strategy, especially when paired with SEO. 

Paid Social Media Marketing

Paid social media marketing is a type of digital paid media that involves paying to display ads on social media platforms. It differs from traditional advertising because it allows businesses to target their ideal customers more precisely. Paid social media advertising is also referred to as paid social. On social media platforms, you target audiences, interests, and behaviours, whereas with paid search, you target keywords and terms. Examples include Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads, popular forms of paid social media because it allows businesses to precisely target specific demographics and interests.

Sponsorships

Finally there are sponsorships. Sponsorships are a type of paid media that involves paying to sponsor content on external platforms. Examples include sponsored blog posts, sponsored social media posts, and sponsored videos on YouTube. Sponsored content is a type of native advertising that is credible and trustworthy by placing it alongside other things that the viewer enjoys. It adds to the user experience rather than disrupting it, unlike traditional advertising. 

Sponsored content is one of the few ways to pay for exposure without interrupting people’s browsing experience. It is important to note that sponsored content must be clearly disclosed to the public, and any post sponsored by a brand or company must be labeled for the audience to understand the nature of the content they are viewing. Sponsorships are a powerful form of paid media because they allow businesses to reach a wider audience and build brand awareness.

Differences Between Paid, Earned, and Owned Media

There are three main types of media when it comes to digital marketing. Here is a quick overview of them to help you easily distinguish the differences between them:

Paid media: is any type of content or marketing channel that requires payment, such as Google Ads, social media ads, and podcast sponsorships. 


Owned media: is any type of content or marketing channel that a business owns and controls, such as their website, social media channels, and blog posts. 


Earned media: is any type of content or marketing channel that a business earns through word-of-mouth or other organic means (SEO), such as customer reviews and external media coverage.

How your brand represents itself online is a big deal. It’s not just about showing up, it’s about making a statement. Leveraging a combination of all media types is important in order for brands to achieve holistic digital success. This is because combining earned, owned and paid media types allows brands to position themselves better in the digital space. Having a clear digital identity is a must have for brands looking to do well in the digital era.

Best Practices for Using Paid Media - Tips for Getting Started

Here are some best practice tips for getting started with paid media:

Identify a Target Audience

Before creating any paid media campaign, it is essential to identify your target audience. This will help you create ads that are tailored to their interests and needs. Use tools like Facebook Audience Insights or Google Analytics to gather data on your website visitors and social media followers. Try to identify things like:

  • Demographics
  • Hobbies and interests
  • Education level
  • Lifestyles, etc.

Set a Budget

Setting a budget is crucial when it comes to paid media. You need to determine how much you are willing to spend on your campaign and allocate your budget accordingly. For example, if you have a budget of $500 for a PPC campaign, you need to allocate that budget across different channels and ad formats. You can allocate $200 for Google Ads, $150 for Facebook Ads, and $150 for Instagram Ads.

Create Engaging Content

Creating engaging content is critical when it comes to paid media. Your ads need to be visually appealing and have a clear call-to-action (CTA). For example, you can use a CTA like "Buy Now" or "Download this ebook now" to encourage your audience to take the next step. Ensure the content you provide users offers real value, is unique to your brand voice  and follows E-E-A-T (experience, expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness) guidelines to establish brand credibility.

Measure Success through Reporting

Measuring the success of your paid media campaign is essential to determine its effectiveness. You can use various tools such as Google Analytics and Facebook Ads Manager to track your campaign's performance. For instance, Google Analytics can help you track metrics such as website traffic, bounce rate, and conversion rate. 

Most platforms that offer paid media placement also offer some reporting metrics on the health of the campaign. Ensure to leverage these insights across the various reporting tools to make data driven adjustments to your campaigns along the way. 

Conclusion 

Paid media is a critical component of a comprehensive marketing strategy. By following best practices such as identifying a target audience, setting a budget, creating engaging content, and measuring success through reporting, businesses can create effective paid media campaigns that drive traffic to their website and increase conversions.

Need more guidance with your company’s paid media strategy and implementation? Book a discovery call with one of our paid media experts today!

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