What Is Paid Media and Why Does It Matter?

By Juan Fajardo Juan Fajardo has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on February 27, 2022

Everyone knows that getting and maintaining a startup off the ground is no easy task, with many people citing that 90% of all startups fail during the first year. The good news is that this statistic is not true… The bad news is that it is a pretty accurate rate when considering how many fail during the first 10 years.

This is not surprising when considering that startups have made a name for themselves for being disruptive. After all, a disruptive idea will bring you attention and funding but what happens when the novelty fades away? You could even say that coming up with the idea is easy, the difficult part is the execution of the idea and putting it out there in a consistent manner.

Startups need to be able to develop effective plans that allow them to achieve the goal every startup is looking for: Succes. However, with so many elements to consider and increasing competition for funding, it is hard for a founder to know where to start. Well, many experts agree that marketing should take precedence.

The reasoning for prioritizing marketing efforts is pretty straightforward: Getting noticed will increase your chances of getting funded, establishing partnerships, and converting sales. One of the most effective, time-tested, and popular strategies is paid media.

With most of us being constantly connected via our phones, computers, smart devices, TV, and traditional communication methods, it is easier for brands to get in touch with us. Startups can benefit greatly from this to raise brand awareness and reach a larger audience.

However, competition has also become more fierce as organizations fight to grab our attention and get us to learn more about them. As such, startups can be at a disadvantage compared to established companies with a larger budget allocated to paid media as they search for the channels that will allow them to engage audiences most compellingly.

Learning what paid media is, what it can achieve, why you should consider it, and what the best strategies are, will prove beneficial for any entrepreneur looking to have a successful business… which we are sure is 100% of them.

What Is Paid Media?

The lines between what does and doesn’t constitute paid media have become increasingly blurry over time. In the past, the idea of paid media was limited to print, TV, radio, and outdoor marketing. Now, most marketing experts agree that any external marketing effort that requires a company to pay for the placement can be considered paid media, independent of the medium.

While this sounds simple enough, the existence of categories like “earned media” and “owned media” often result in misunderstandings. It is also not uncommon for inexperienced marketing professionals to think about these categories independently when in fact, they complement each other.

Paid media includes any advertising medium (websites, blogs, etc.) that companies pay to have their ads published in, with most startups using paid media to create social media marketing campaigns. Campaigns in social networks (social ads) and search engine marketing (SEM) are also used here so that your company is optimally positioned in a browser.

Through this type of campaign, companies manage to accomplish the difficult task of gaining visibility in crowded spaces, as well as revenue growth.

Earned Media and Owned Media: The Complement to Paid Media

As we said before, there are different types of media that startups can take advantage of when it comes to executing sponsored content. Understanding the difference between these types of media and how they interact, will allow you to design better strategies.

Earned Media

Earned media includes all portals that advertise a product or service free of charge because they were influenced by it. In other words, it is an exhibition that has organically reached your brand, either through the recommendation of satisfied customers or through a viral event. 

This type of media includes press mentions, reviews, recommendations, sharing, or any form of word-of-mouth resulting from your content distributions, SEO efforts, or customer experience. This recognition will often follow active efforts with other types of media as it tends to be more organic, especially at a time when social networking and blogging have made it easier than ever to share recommendations.

Owned Media

As the name implies, owned media is any platform that a company owns to promote itself. Some examples are blogs, YouTube channels, TikTok accounts, etc. These are very useful for building a digital presence and ensuring brand recognition.

Nowadays digital presence is one of the key factors that determine whether your business can succeed or not. With it, you can attract a larger number of people to move them down the funnel. 

Why Does Paid Media Matter?

Paid media is one of the most effective means of marketing as it allows startups to reach a wider audience in an active manner than any other type of media. While earned and owned media require you to have gained relevance in the industry, paid media allows you to expand such relevance.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that paid media brings to startups looking to promote content and drive exposure.

More Visibility and Better Positioning

By establishing a startup on social networks, it will automatically have greater reach and visibility. You will reach a larger audience, and the opportunities to increase sales will be much greater. Paid advertising allows you to increase traffic to your website.

On the other hand, if your website still does not appear in the best positions in Google despite having paid for advertising, you should consider hiring an SEO specialist. These experts will take care of your website optimization so that it appears first in search results, which will improve the benefits of paid media.

Platform Flexibility

A great advantage of using paid media is that the contracts are not final, which means you can cancel the contract at any time without causing your company major losses. This will allow you to test multiple platforms, mediums, and outlets to come up with the best strategy for your campaign.

If you see that a campaign is not achieving the expected goals, it is better to get rid of it and try another platform. After all, paid media is all about reaching new potential customers to increase your user or customer base.

Get to Know Your Audience

When you pay to advertise your product or service, you have control over all the information about who goes through the advertising. Based on this, what you can also do is adjust your content to whoever views it.

Information you can find about the people viewing the ads might include the following: Demographics, gender, age, interests, and more. This can be very useful to customize your services to an audience you already know and even expand further to generate more sales.

This is incredibly important as you don’t want to reach just about anyone but the people who might help your business get off the ground. Efficacy is more important than volume! 


Paid media tends to be a pretty accessible service for startups, especially at a time when the industry is getting more attention. While the costs will depend on the objectives, you will often find that most platforms will have a multitude of plans for different needs. 

For example, It’s not the same to set a cost-per-click (CPC) or a cost-per-1,000-impressions (CPM) term. In the first variant, advertisers pay platforms depending on the total number of clicks made on the ad. In the second one, as you can guess from the name, advertisers pay for 1,000 impressions on the announcement.

Increased Trust

In the modern age, having your business on social media and being widely advertised is a sign of authenticity and transparency. Earlier we mentioned how paid media could positively influence your business. It is good to know that it also gives recognition to your brand.

Companies that are trusted can also retain their customers longer. When word gets out, many people will know that your company is reputable, and they will come to purchase what you sell. That’s another great perk from paid media and social media ads.

The relevance of social media is one of the main reasons why influencers have become one of the most important players in the paid media market. After all, influencers get to have a more personal connection with their followers.

Types of Paid Media

Social Media Ads

In social networks, the ads we are shown usually have a lot to do with our interests. Moreover, they are distributed in a very strategic way. What are we trying to say? Well, take Instagram as an example: You are scrolling through Stories and there it is, that shirt you have been meaning to buy. This is possible because of how social media uses advanced algorithms to serve customized ads.

Currently, this type of paid media is most popular because a large portion of the population has social networks and uses them frequently. As mentioned earlier, a great advantage of social media ads is that a CPC strategy can be used. The cost per click can be beneficial for you because you do not have to pay anything until users are led to your ads.

Finally, you should know that when looking for the best platform for social media ads, you can choose from a variety of options. These include the following:

  • Google Ads
  • Facebook Ads
  • Amazon Ads
  • YouTube Ads
  • TikTok For Business
  • Linkedin Ads

Each of these platforms has its merits. However, you should do deeper research to know which fits the most to your marketing plan. Another good idea is to hire influencers to promote your service. This is another example of paid social media advertising.

Print Ads

Yes, we know what you are thinking. Print ads are an archaic way to promote your services. But it is not. This type of marketing was most commonly used before the advent of social media and is still used, albeit on a smaller scale. As you know, there are still many people who read magazines or travel by car and see large billboards on the road.

With the right placement and the right size, a print ad can certainly be very effective for promoting your brand. A good idea is also to print out a QR code and attach it to the ad to mix the online and offline parts.

Finally, print ads, though overtaken by digital ads, are still viable for many reasons. The way it approaches certain types of audiences is unique, and it can be used to focus on a very specific niche without spending so much. This type of marketing strategy is not going away any time soon.

Radio/Podcast Ads

It may be a good idea to consider paying podcast or radio owners to promote your business. Advertisers pay to have their ads aired for a few seconds. There are many stations where you can advertise your business, and also different types of commercials.

For example, there are radio live reads, where the main journalist reads your advert on air. If you don’t like that idea, you can do a straight reading. Here it’s only you that will be giving your business information and how customers can get in touch with you.

With 58% of Americans having listened to podcasts and the number of frequent listeners growing, podcasts have become a great medium for marketing campaigns. In addition to this, the variety of podcasts ensures that you can reach an audience with specific interests.

Display Ads

Display ads, also called banner ads, are images or gifs that appear on websites for a certain period of time showing your advertising. These are often used on landing pages, so you should look for a website with a nice presentation and high traffic to set your ad.

Determining the demographic you want to reach is also extremely important to increase the potential of your campaign. Fortunately, platforms that offer display ads also have a lot of customization options for you to choose from.

How to Make A Successful Paid Media Campaign?

There are many keys to a successful paid media campaign. Small businesses grow mainly thanks to marketing, and a good strategy can lead to many customers and investors. Let’s look at what we can do to run a successful paid media campaign.

Identify Your Goals

When you start in the field of paid media, many doubts will surely cross your mind. However, you must stay focused and ask yourself: What do I want to achieve? What do I want to let people know in my advertisements? Do I want to increase customer satisfaction or make more sales? That’s the first step to a successful paid media campaign.

You can not get where you want to go if you do not know where you want to arrive. By defining your goals, you can give shape to your marketing campaign. Whatever you define as your goals will also change your campaign requirements.

For example, if you are trying to target young people as your main audience, you should use TikTok For Business before Linkedin Ads or Amazon Ads. We all know that Linkedin is a platform for workers and Amazon is for buying stuff. Young people use other platforms like TikTok or Instagram.

These are factors to think about before launching a marketing campaign. Set different objectives and work hard on them.

Track Your Successes Even if Minimal

Getting started with paid media and a marketing campaign is not easy and it can take some time to see big results. That’s why you also need to set micro-goals to see success early on. For example, you can set milestones for your first sale. You can even set another milestone when the campaign starts to be profitable.

These are different ways to know you are doing things right. They motivate you and keep you on course to do the best you can. Immediate results are not expected on paid media campaigns, you have to be patient and resilient.

Take Control Of Your Financials

It is always important for any business to set its budget. By determining how much money you have available, you can calculate what is the best option for a paid media campaign. This allows you to focus your energies where they really need to be.

However, as we mentioned earlier, you can always switch to other campaigns if the one you are using is not working well. The real benefit of figuring out your budget is that you can have peace of mind at the time of investment. Your money will be spent wisely.

If you know how much you want to spend and how much ROI you will get, you can make better decisions. You will understand where to get the best results and you will be able to focus the budget on the best platform.

Choose The Correct Platform For Your Needs

As we already know, paid media campaigns are always conducted through third-party platforms. Therefore, you should take your time to choose the right platform. That’s where money is invested, and you won’t want to throw it away.

There are many platforms, so focus on what your goals are and how your business is set up. If you want to sell your own product, consider Amazon Ads. On the other hand, if you want to generate more leads, running a campaign in Google Ads is always a good option.

There are many ways a campaign can be managed, so it is extremely important to find the platform that best fits your goals. If your budget allows you, it could be even worth trying some of them to see which gives the best results.

Implement and Stick to Your Plan

After all the extensive work, it is time to execute the strategy. This can be the most challenging part of the campaign. Up until this point, it has all been about planning but now it’s time to turn everything on and wait for results to happen. 

You will need to keep a close eye on the performance of your strategy. Be aware that you won’t see immediate results most of the time, so don’t despair. Stick to the plan and once you have sufficient data, adjust your strategy as necessary.

If you take your time and do your homework, your paid media strategy is sure to pay off!

Should You Get A Paid Media Specialist?

Advertising is evolving and all businesses need it to some degree. Constant interaction with digital devices for many hours a day and new consumption habits make the user a constant recipient of digital communication and advertising.

The Internet creates opportunities for growing and personalized communication between companies and customers. New roles have been created in the professional market and companies need professionals to fill new positions.

Specialized training in technology, design, and marketing opens the way for professionals who are constantly up to date and curious about new trends. Programmers, project managers, and designers work together as a team to make the marketing campaign successful.

The main tasks of paid media professionals are writing content for social networks, researching new trends in digital marketing, collecting and analyzing data for decision making, and managing search engine positioning tools and data science platforms.

A digital marketing specialist’s income ranges from $2,000 to $4,000, so if your company’s budget allows, contacting a paid media professional might be a good decision.

By Juan Fajardo Juan Fajardo has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Juan Fajardo is a News Desk Editor at Grit Daily. He is a software developer, tech and blockchain enthusiast, and writer, areas in which he has contributed to several projects. A jack of all trades, he was born in Bogota, Colombia but currently lives in Argentina after having traveled extensively. Always with a new interest in mind and a passion for entrepreneurship, Juan is a news desk editor at Grit Daily where it covers everything related to the startup world.

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