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The following information is provided by the Center for REALTOR® Development.

The difference between owned, earned and paid media is an important distinction that should be understood by every professional hoping to make a digital impact and generate online exposure and leads. Ultimately, you should think about if and how to address each of these types of media in your annual or ongoing marketing planning.

Things to consider in your overall plan are the budget that you’re willing to invest (such as for online advertising) and time that you have to spare (such as for writing a blog).

Below, we’ll briefly explain what the different types of media are, and give some examples of each.

Owned Media – This type is media that you have complete control over and which you typically expend effort to create yourself. Examples include:

  • Video is a rich method of communication. Video can be used for many different types of messaging and storytelling, such as testimonials, education, buyer tours, virtual community tours, interviews, and “just moved in” announcements.
  • Photos are an excellent way to showcase your community without having to write a lot of content. Walk your community, and let your photos capture the essence of where you live and work.
  • Blogging can require a significant time investment on a weekly basis, and results will not be immediate. Success through blogging or any other social media channel comes from consistency and repetition over time.

Earned Media – This type of media is “earned” through the good work you do and your reputation, and comes about through the analysis, voice, comments and opinions of others. Examples include:

  • Productivity rankings compiled by franchises, associations, individual firms, and websites developed specifically for this purpose.
  • Consumer-focused rating and review sites, such as, Angie’s List, and at major portal agent profiles, such as those on®.
  • Companies that send surveys directly to clients on behalf of real estate professionals; these surveys actually generate testimonials for agents that they can leverage.

Paid Media – This type of media is media that you pay for and which uses placement to bring traffic and visitors to your web properties.

  • Search engine marketing (SEM) encompasses all kinds of search engine–centered marketing strategies. At the heart of SEM, you’re paying so that your website appears at the top of the list when someone searches for a keyword or several keywords that you feel are relevant to your site.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO) refers to efforts (often fee-based) to make your website organically place or rank higher in the unpaid results. SEO is important because search algorithms are constantly changing, making it a challenge to stay up-to-date and relevant so that potential customers can easily find you.
  • Unlike traditional forms of media advertising, online advertising gives you a lot more options. You can pay by impressions (or views), traditionally measured in pay-per-mile (PPM, price per 1000 impressions) or pay-per-impression (PPI). You can also use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. Each model has its place.

For much more about owned, earned and paid media, check out our featured product this month at the Center for REALTOR® Development, the e-PRO® Day 1 and 2 bundle, which is the educational requirement for NAR’s e-PRO® certification and is on sale this entire month of May at 25% off. This certification aims to help real estate professionals broaden their technology skills to connect effectively with today’s digitally-savvy consumer.

For more information, please visit RISMedia’s online learning portal from NAR’s Center for REALTOR® Development (CRD) and the Learning Library. Here, real estate professionals can sign up for online professional development courses, industry designations, certifications, CE credits, Code of Ethics programs and more. NAR’s CRD also offers monthly specials and important education updates. New users will need to register for an account.

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