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What is Paid Media?



Definition: Paid media refers to external marketing efforts that involve a paid placement. Paid media includes PPC advertising, branded content, and display ads.

Paid media is an essential component of revenue growth and brand awareness for online businesses.

Types of Media: Paid, Earned, Owned

Owned media is a website, blog or other web entity that you control.

Earned or Organic media is content that organically travels across the web based on its popularity and inherent value, such as reviews and social media comments.

Paid media, on the other hand, is closer to traditional marketing, whereby you pay a third party to broadcast your message to other individuals.

Though it was once possible to firmly categorize all media as either paid, earned, or owned, the cross-channel marketing experience is blurring these lines.

For example — social media is technically earned media, but it allows for paid placements. This makes it a platform that supports varying strategies, techniques, and campaign types.

Why Use Paid Media?

At first glance, paid media might appear archaic or and unnecessary.

After all, one of the strengths of web marketing and social media is that it allows you to avoid the typical pitfalls of paid advertising by exposing different users to your brand in new, different and engaging ways.

While this is true, paid media still has a valid usage and can work in tandem with earned & owned media to help an online business grow.

Paid media is one of the quickest ways to drive traffic.

Paid media is a good way of opening doors, even if just a crack, that would otherwise stay closed.

For some users, a promoted post or tweet will be their first exposure to your business or brand. Whether yours is a new venture, fresh on the scene or already well established, the opportunity to spread your brand as widely as possible should be a top goal.

Your content, even if paid for, will still potentially get clicks and perhaps even followers, leading to earned clicks in the future.

Additionally, the results of your paid content will be easier to track than organic content.

Social media typically provides statistics on how many Impressions, clicks and Leads your paid content receives while viewing the same information about organic content can be trickier.

Finally, just because content is promoted doesn't mean it's not valuable. As many social media experts will tell you, the ways of the Internet and social media are mysterious, and there's often no way to explain or predict why one piece of content becomes more popular than another.

Sometimes, it's just a matter of the moment.

Paid promotions can help ensure your content - whether a promotion for a big sale, an update on a charity or cause, or an informative video aimed at establishing you as a thought leader - gets picked up, shared around and goes to the right influencers.

Using Paid Media on Social Networks

Paid media takes various forms across different social media platforms.


Chief among these platforms is Facebook, which over the years has gone from being one of the numerous social media options to becoming virtually synonymous with the term.

Facebook advertising offers a number of paid promotional options. The two most commonly used for E-Commerce are:

Carousel ads

Carousel ads are swipeable ads that allow you to view multiple images or videos in a single ad space.

Facebook allows your creativity to flow by permitting you to showcase up to ten products within one ad, each with its own link. You can also add up to 10 videos in a carousel format.

This will allow you to tell a better story, showcase a larger range of products or display a more detailed description of your products.

On average, it’s driving 30-50% lower cost-per-conversion than single-image link ads. Carousel ads help deliver a reduction in cost per lead and an increase in click-through rates.

If you are just setting up shop carousel ads are the way to go as you can select and design what you'd like to display.

According to Facebook, here are the latest requirements for a carousel ad.


  • 2-10 Images

  • Recommended format: JPG or PNG format.

  • Image file size: Maximum of 30MB

  • Image resolution: 1080X1080

  • Text: 125 characters

  • Headline: 40 characters

  • Link Description: 20 characters


  • 2-10 Videos

  • Recommended format: MP4 or MOV

  • Image file size: Maximum of 30MB

  • Text: 125 characters

  • Headline: 40 characters

  • Link Description: 20 characters

Dynamic Product Ads (DPA)

DPA’s allow retailers to showcase exactly the same products or services their shoppers are interested in.

As and when a customer browses through your website, views a product, or adds to cart, facebook's pixels pick it up.

Facebook then showcases those products your customer has shown interest in.

Dynamic Product Ads reduces the workload of creating multiple ad units for every product/product line.

Dynamic product ads also get 3X the engagement than a normal Facebook ad.

You can get started with Dynamic Product Ads in 2 simple steps.

  1. Submit your product feed in an XML or CSV format to Facebook.

  2. Setup the Facebook pixel on your website. Configure when you want the pixel to fire i.e. add to cart, view Content, or purchase.

That’s it! You’re good to go.

Further Reading:10 Best Practices for Facebook Dynamic Product Ads

Facebook has the highest number of social media users, you can choose to take advantage of the site's more than 1 billion users and rich database of user data by paying for a Facebook ad.

Facebook lets online businesses target their ads based on metrics such as:

  • Geographic locations, filtered by country, region, city or even postal/zip code

  • Age

  • Gender

  • Spoken languages

  • Interests, including sport, films and music

  • Behaviour, from where and how they shop to whether they're a house hunter

This lets you tailor your product to the exact demographic of your typical customer. For instance, if you were a sports retailer based in a Spanish-speaking area of a city, you might choose to target an ad for basketball shoes to users aged 18-40 who speak Spanish and are interested in the sport.

Your ad will appear on their news feed like any other product.

You can do the same thing when it comes to boosting your posts. Choose how much you're willing to spend, pick an audience profile and your post will be sent out to many more people. This is especially useful if your business is running a promotion you want to let people know about.


Twitter offers similar services like its promoted tweets, which act as regular tweets but are sent out to more people who may be interested in your business.

They will pop up on both timelines as well as at the top of relevant search results that users make.

Promoted tweets can be used both to raise awareness of your business and inform users of a particular event or action.

You can also pay to set up a promoted account, where Twitter will encourage users to follow your account.

Twitter's promoted posts can be used predominantly to achieve two major goals:

To drive a particular action:

  • Promote content that you believe will stand out and use that to drive traffic to your website.

  • Offer coupons and deals in the copy of your Tweets

  • Add a coupon or deal offering to your tweet

  • Lead generation cards are a powerful tool that you can use

To drive awareness for your business:

  • Use Twitter to publish long-form content

  • Spread brand awareness with the help of influencers ensure you get a larger reach

  • Design copies that help spread awareness around events and product launches


With more than 1 billion active users every month, Instagram is a great platform to advertise.

As Instagram is solely a visual medium make sure your creatives are strong.

Let’s take a look at the four ways you can use Instagram to promote your ads:

Photo ads

Photo ads allow you to promote your brand or product in a single image format. It’s a simple method to showcase your products to your users.

Your ad can consist of one photo, an ad copy and a CTA.

Video ads

Video ads are a far more interactive to photo ads. Each 60-second video can be uploaded in either landscape or square format.

In times to come video content will represent 74% of all internet traffic.

Carousel ads

These swipeable ads help in reducing Cost per conversion by 69% in comparison to link ads.

Just like Facebook, Instagram allows you to display 10 images within a single ad space.

Story ads

Instagram stories now allow you to promote your products to 300 million users daily. You may use alternative content to try out or experiment with story ads and complement your feed.

Like most ads on Instagram, you can use Facebook ads manager or power editor to launch your stories.

While creating ads on Instagram create high-quality images, HQ images reinforce trust in the consumers, inept images may cause a loss of trust in the customers and drive them away from your product.

A lack of effort in visual post reflects badly on a customer, he/she may hesitate from clicking on a link they cannot trust.

Just remember: With all of these things, it's not enough to pay to boost your content - the content itself must also be crafted well to succeed.

Remember, too, that all of this paid content will be labeled as such. You're not going to be tricking any users into clicks.

Additionally, Instagram added Shoppable instagram posts that allow buyers to add products to an ecommerce store directly from Instagram photos.

Instagram allows you to pay for photos or videos that will get promoted on user's feeds.

Influencer Marketing

A trend that is really picking up the pace, influencer marketing is a form of marketing in which a brand uses a social figure or a thought leader to inspire or promote your content to his followers.

A large number of brands have been investing in Influencer marketing, the industry scaled to $570 million on Instagram in 2016, alone.

Influencer marketing really helps you tap into an audience which otherwise would be hard to reach out to.

Here are the steps you could use to help build an influencer campaign:

  • Identify key brand or product influencers

  • Create a marketing campaign directed for the influencers which help stand out.

  • Understand the audience and make sure your campaigns are audience-centric

  • Create a secondary marketing campaign for the influencers to drive greater awareness to a larger set of target consumers

  • Track key metrics relating to reach, sales and brand awareness

Paid content is one part of what should be a three-pronged strategy by businesses to get their brand out there. Paid content should work alongside of, rather than in opposition to, earned and owned content for a successful social media marketing effort.

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