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Connecting Owned and Earned Media: How to Measure Impact

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Digital marketing today can sometimes feel like a never-ending maze. At every turn, there’s a new metric to consider, a novel strategy to adopt, or a fresh challenge to overcome. Throughout it all, the core question remains: how do we measure the actual impact of our earned and owned media efforts? 

In today’s economy, proving ROI from marketing investments is especially critical. By harnessing the power of data storytelling within an integrated marketing framework, teams can leverage metrics that cater to specific data needs, while clearly demonstrating the role earned and owned media play in overall business success.

7 Ways to Measure Owned and Earned Media Impact 

Measuring the combined impact of owned and earned media is a strategic opportunity for businesses, as each offers a unique lens into brand performance. Owned media reflects a brand’s self-crafted narrative, while earned media showcases the brand through external viewpoints and validations. Evaluating them together provides a holistic picture of a brand’s footprint in the digital space, balancing controlled messaging with public perception. This combined approach enables businesses to pinpoint strengths, identify gaps, and craft a more informed, cohesive media strategy.

Explore these seven essential metrics to deepen your understanding and enhance your team’s approach to both earned and owned media.

owned and earned media1. Branded Search Visibility 

  • What it is: Branded search visibility represents the click-through rate of branded terms in organic search, giving an estimate of the percentage of clicks your site receives based on the ranking positions across brand-only keywords. 
  • Why it Matters: Earned media plays a pivotal role in driving brand search volume, ensuring that your brand remains top-of-mind among target audiences. 
  • How to Measure: Monitor your site’s click-through rate for brand-specific keywords. Use third-party tools to assess your brand’s share-of-voice (SOV) in the market compared to competitors. Analyze trends and spikes in branded search queries, attributing them to recent earned media campaigns.  

owned and earned media2. Strategic Search Visibility 

  • What it is: The click-through rate of strategic terms in organic search, typically covering a limited set of keywords directly aligned with your core services and products. 
  • Why it Matters: Earned media focused on product launches and thought leadership can elevate your brand’s rank for these strategic terms. 
  • How to Measure: Track the click-through rate for these specific strategic keywords and compare them against times when significant earned media was in play.

owned and earned media3. Referral Web Traffic 

  • What it is: Google’s method of identifying visits that originate from sources other than direct traffic, search engines, or your social channels. 
  • Why it Matters: A surge in referral traffic can be a direct result of earned media coverage, demonstrating its power in drawing interest and directing it to your site. 
  • How to Measure: Collaborate with your digital team to create Google Analytics segments that track traffic from specific media URLs, including all significant third-party domains.

owned and earned media4. Organic Web Traffic with Conversion 

  • What it is: This metric identifies the percentage of organic visitors who engage in predefined conversion actions on your site. 
  • Why it Matters: 60% of marketers cite inbound (organic) traffic as their highest-quality lead source. A rise in organic web traffic combined with increased conversions illustrates the influence of earned media in not just attracting visitors, but also guiding them through the conversion funnel.  
  • How to Measure: Monitor organic traffic sources and conversion rates simultaneously, attributing spikes to your earned media efforts. 

owned and earned media5. High-Value Page Traffic 

  • What it is: The percentage of organic web traffic directed toward the top-10 prospect-centric web pages.
  • Why it Matters: These pages are crucial conversion points in the customer journey. A boost in traffic to these pages can often be attributed to earned media strategies. 
  • How to Measure: Analyze traffic trends on high-value pages during times of significant earned media coverage.

owned and earned media6. Key Linking Domains 

  • What it is: Focuses on inbound and mutual links that play a vital role in search algorithms. 
  • Why it Matters: High authority earned media links can substantially improve your site’s search visibility. 
  • How to Measure: Track inbound links from high domain authority sources and gauge their influence on your search rankings.

owned and earned media7. Social Media SOV (Share of Voice) 

  • What it is: A measurement of how much of the conversation your brand dominates compared to competitors on social media channels. 
  • Why it Matters: Integrating earned media into organic social media strategies can amplify your brand’s voice, leading to increased site traffic. 
  • How to Measure: Monitor and compare mentions, engagements, and share of conversations of your brand versus competitors on major social platforms. 


owned and earned media

Best Practices for Measuring Earned and Owned Media Together 

By embracing the connection between earned and digital media and measuring their combined impact effectively, marketers can navigate the brand-to-demand journey with more precision.

Here are some best practices to ensure you stay agile, responsive, and always ready to leverage the combined strengths of these powerful channels.

  • Integrated Reporting: Merge earned media metrics with owned media analytics for a comprehensive overview. 
  • Unified Brand Narrative: Ensure that messages across earned and owned channels resonate and amplify each other. 
  • Responsive Analysis: Regularly review and adjust strategies based on the insights from combined media metrics. 
  • Review Metrics Early and Often: Constantly assess your metrics, ensuring they remain relevant and aligned with your objectives. Regular reviews help in timely course correction. 
  • Cross-Team Collaboration: Foster a culture of collaboration between PR and digital teams. Their combined expertise will lead to more holistic strategies. 
  • Educate and Align: Ensure all team members understand the importance and interplay of each metric. This mutual understanding drives cohesive efforts and better results. 
  • Celebrate Wins, Learn from Losses: Recognize and celebrate when metrics indicate positive traction from earned and owned media efforts. Similarly, analyze and learn from instances where metrics did not meet expectations. 
  • Stay Updated: The digital landscape is ever-changing. Regularly update your team’s knowledge on the latest tools, platforms, and algorithms to measure earned and owned media effectively. 

Unified Reporting: The Brand-to-Demand Advantage 

As we wind our way through the proverbial marketing maze, it becomes evident that the true exit isn’t an endpoint — it’s clarity. By integrating the force of paid, earned, and owned media, we not only find our way through the maze but also derive actionable insights to refine our strategy. 

By strategically integrating these channels through the brand-to-demand approach, businesses can better measure impact, adjust strategies in real-time, and drive tangible results — all essential to remaining competitive in today’s market. The journey is ongoing, but with each step, we’re better poised to anticipate turns, sidestep pitfalls, and achieve our goals with greater precision and success. 

Ready to learn more about how PAN’s brand-to-demand marketing approach can drive success for your business? Let’s go! 

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