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Paid Media

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What is paid media? 

Paid media refers to paid advertising activities that a company undertakes on external websites and platforms. Most commonly, paid media refers to the adverts displayed on PPC advertising platforms, as well as other display ads. Paid media can also include branded content, like blog posts or sponsored videos on YouTube.

You’ve probably seen ads across social media platforms and on top of the search results page on Google. 

Your favorite blog or YouTube channel might also sometimes publish content that is sponsored by a particular company or brand. 

There are two main reasons why companies include paid media in their marketing strategies:

  • Growth. Paying for media space on external websites helps to grow revenue fast. As the advert will be shown to people who should be interested in the product or brand, or who are looking for it on a search engine, you’ll get high-quality traffic directed to your website or online store.  
  • Brand awareness. Creating awareness for an online business can be fast-tracked with paid advertising since the ads can be targeted to a particular group of people. While awareness won’t directly affect the bottom line, it’s an invaluable part of overall growth.

The benefits of paid media VS other online marketing channels

Given the number of free media opportunities, paying to have your advert displayed on someone else’s website might seem a little counterintuitive.

However, combining paid media with earned media and/or owned media campaigns can help you create a strong presence for your online business. 

There are many benefits of paid media advertising: 

  • Brand exposure. If you’re just starting out, it can take a while to gain organic traffic through search results or on social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Paying for ad space puts your business on the map and reaches people who would otherwise never hear of your brand. 
  • A quick way to generate traffic. Given that your ad is relevant and targeted well, running a paid search engine advertising campaign can help you kickstart your eCommerce journey. 
  • Easier to track. Unlike earned media (sometimes referred to as organic traffic), paid media is much easier to track. You can keep an eye on the number of impressions and clicks your ad gets, and see which platforms perform the best for your products or services.  

Examples of paid media

There are many different types of media and platforms that can be used in paid advertising campaigns. 

Depending on your product, business model, and your overall marketing strategy and goals, some might work better for you than others.

Paid advertising on blogs and forums

Blogs offer space for display ads and sponsored blog posts.

If you have recently launched a fishing equipment eCommerce store, for example, talking to fishing blogs about advertising opportunities is a great place to start. 

You could strike a deal for a visual display ad (banner ad on the blog or in a newsletter), see if you could get the blogger to review some of your equipment, or include your store or products in a listicle post. 

Depending on whether the blog is privately run or part of a network, you want to reach out to the blogger or their agency to get an idea of their paid media models and pricing. 

Similarly to blogs, forums can also be good platforms for paid media. Check out forums that fit your niche and find out what kinds of paid media advertising they offer. Such paid media can dramatically increase the traffic to your website. 

Getting in touch with the forum administrators is a good first step to see what kinds of advertising opportunities are available. 

PPC, PPM and CPA online advertising

Online ad networks that offer display, pay-per-mille (PPM), cost-per-action (CPA), and pay-per-click (PPC) advertising are some of the main options to explore if you want to start a paid media strategy. 

PPC advertising is particularly popular among search engines and bigger advertising networks. Running paid media campaigns on search engines means that your ad is shown at the top of search results that are related to your ad’s keywords. 

Let’s take an online store selling baking equipment and accessories as an example. Getting started with a paid media campaign on a PPC platform includes thinking of the best search queries or keywords that are relevant to your store. 

Your ads could be shown when people use keywords like ‘standing mixer’ and ‘ice cream machine.’ This means that when a user is Googling for best deals on ice cream machines, your ad is served for them to see. 

If you’re running a paid media display campaign with an ad network, you usually pay a fee to have your banner or advert placed on the network’s websites. 

Even YouTube offers PPC and display advertising opportunities in the form of video ad placements. Depending on the video position of your ad, it could be shown at the start of the video or in the middle of it, depending on the length of the video. 

Native ads

Another form of display advertising is native ads or paid media that aim to blend in with a news article or blog post. 

These ads are intended to match the look of an original article on the website they are published on.  

Due to the popularity of ad-blocking tools, native ads tend to get more engagement from website visitors compared to banner ads. While native ads can be found across different news portals and websites, they are also very common on social media platforms.

Advertising on social media platforms

Paid media is popular and commonplace on social media platforms too. 

What makes paid social media ads powerful marketing tools is the level of targeting available. The ads can be targeted to users depending on their interests, demographics, behavior, age, and any other information shared with the platform.

Platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn offer dedicated business accounts where you can manage your campaigns and follow the performance of different types of media ads. 

Do your research on the types of ads that work well on your chosen platform before you launch your campaign. Image-heavy ads tend to work great on social media platforms, but are not favored by the text-heavy LinkedIn algorithm. 

Paid access to customers databases and email lists

There are also companies dedicated to collecting and selling their customer databases and email lists. 

The options for paid media include: 

  • Renting out display ad space on the bottom of a newsletter
  • Sending out your own branded newsletter to a third party’s database  
  • Targeting particular demographics with a pop-up or a banner ad, if the databases have a user login section 

While reaching out to an existing audience, you need to be sure that the users are fine with receiving advertising from a third party. 

Make sure to check this with the database owner before signing a contract. 

Influencer marketing and product placement

Social media influencer marketing has been growing exponentially, and for a good reason. With so many people treating influencers as their friends, consumers trust them when they recommend a product or service. 

Influencer marketing can be particularly powerful in niches or markets with thought leaders and other influential figures: it will help you get exposure for your brand in a positive and trusted environment. 

Most influencers’ sponsorships are the responsibility of their creative agencies, meaning that the agency will be your first point of contact. 

Start implementing an influencer marketing strategy by: 

  • Identifying the key influencers in your market 
  • Creating a marketing campaign that focuses on user-centered content (think social media challenges, discount codes, and free trials)
  • Identify key results and metrics you want to achieve and track

Main differences between paid, owned, and earned media

In order to run effective marketing campaigns, you need to understand the main differences between the web traffic that you have to pay for and the different types of free or organic traffic. 

Paid media describes the digital advertising activities where you pay an external party an agreed fee in order to advertise your products or services on their website or platform. 

This is the online equivalent of paying for ad space in a newspaper or a magazine, or running video ads on commercial TV networks. 

Usually, paid media takes the form of banner or display ads on social media, search engines, or other websites. But paid advertising can also include sponsored video content on YouTube, or a sponsored blog or social media post. 

The purpose of paid media is to grow your business and increase the overall traffic on your website or eCommerce store and provide more sales to your business. 

Owned media refers to the media that you’re producing and publishing yourself on your own platforms. It’s media that you have full control over. 

Your website, social media accounts, blogs, and newsletters all fall under owned media. 

The purpose of owned media is to also increase your sales, but the owned content is usually more informative than promotional content when compared to paid media. 

Owned media is used for brand building and slowly warming up the potential buyers. A consumer might not want to buy your product the first time they visit your website, but they might sign up for a newsletter instead. 

Earned media is usually the result of good brand awareness building and paid advertising. 

It’s the exposure your brand and business is getting through word-of-mouth in the form of press mentions, online reviews, recommendations, and social media shares and reposts. 

You are usually not able to influence earned media as much as paid or owned media. 

However, if you’ve focused all your efforts on delivering top-notch products or services and outstanding customer service, the traffic and publicity you get through earned media should be positive. 

Don’t be afraid of receiving a bad review, either. You can use it as a learning tool to optimize and perfect your business operations and your product. 

Written by

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Matleena is a seasoned eCommerce writer, with a particular interest in emerging digital marketing trends, dropshipping, and growth hacking. She’s addicted to coming up with new eCommerce business ideas and making them a reality; she deserves her nickname of ‘print on demand business mogul.' In her free time, she enjoys cups of good coffee, tends to her balcony garden, and studies Japanese.

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