Looking Beyond Paid, Earned, Owned Media: The Brandsphere Infographic

In discussions about new media, you will often hear the division of media opportunities as Paid, Owned, and Earned media (P.O.E.M.). Over the years, I’ve studied the various categorization of media from a few perspectives, 1) that of traditional content creation, owners, budgets, and metrics, 2) how social networks cater to consumption and sharing, 3) how progressive businesses are approaching content strategies in social media and how they’re rethinking departments, intentions, metrics, and budgets,  and 4) also how media opportunities are packaged and sold by each network and who’s buying them and why. In many cases, I’ve found that  media is not limited to three groups, but instead categorized into five key segments: Paid, Promoted, Owned, Shared, and Earned. To visualize the model that reflects the state of new media, I once again partnered with my good friends at JESS3. The result…The Brandsphere.

Introducing The Brandsphere

Social networks and channels present brands with a broad array of media opportunities to engage customers and those who influence them. Each channel offers a unique formula for engagement where brands become stories and people become storytellers. Using a transmedia approach, the brand story can connect with customers differently across each medium, creating a deeper, more enriching experience. Transmedia storytelling doesn’t follow the traditional rules of publishing; it caters to customers where they connect and folds them into the narrative. In any given network, brands can invest in digital assets that span five media landscapes:

1. Paid: Digital advertising, banners, adwords, overlays

2. Owned: Created assets, custom content

3. Earned: Brand-related conversations and user-generated content

4: Promoted: in-stream or social paid promotions vehicles (e.g. Twitter’s Promoted products and Facebook’s Sponsored Stories)

5. Shared: Open platforms or communities where customers co-create and collaborate with brands. (e.g. Dell’s IdeaStorm and Starbuck’s MyStarbucksIdea.)

Any combination of the five media strategies defines a new Brandsphere where organizations can capture attention, steer online experiences, spark conversations and word of mouth can help customers address challenges or create new opportunities. Each media channel connects differently with people and thus requires a dedicated approach integrating tangible and intangible value. Doing so ensures a critical path for social media content: relevance, reach and resonance.

Click for a free hi-res download…

Center (White): At the center of the Brandsphere is the brand story. Everything starts with not just defining what the brand represents, but how it comes alive in social networks. This requires definition through a social media style guide and the development of a complete persona, voice, and promise.

Ring 1 (Red): The brand story is supported by tenets that serve as the connective tissue between the brand story and the technology that creates a path to consumers.

Ring 2: The vertical gray lines (triangles) divide the media types between Paid, Promoted, Owned, Shared, and Earned. Ring 2 provides the various options available to brands within each channel.

Ring 3 (Orange): Each media type is then enlivened through various forms of activation including Engagement, Gamification, SEO, Content Marketing, and SMO.

Ring 4 (Light Green): Media types are then visualized through the various platforms consumers use to discover, consume, and share content aka the Four Screens: PC, TV, Tablet, Mobile.

Ring 5 (Green): Media objects are then pushed and socialized through promotion, syndication, and organic means.

Ring 6 (Dark Green): Objects are further distributed and also measured through 1) Clickthroughs, presence and traffic, 2) Actions, Reactions, and Transactions (A.R.T), 3) Word of Mouth, and 4) Shares.

Ring 7 (Light Blue): Content then finds a permanent home among the groups that value information based on social graphs (personal and professional relationships) and interest graphs (networks based on commonalities and shared interests).

Ring 8 (Dark Blue): Objects are analyzed, activated, and/or repurposed by the various markets intrigued by the branded story.

The results of new media programs are measured by resonance, reach, and outcomes. Those that garner traction travel from the center outward and again from the outward in and back out again.

The Brandsphere is the visualization of Social Media’s critical path, R.R.S. Thus content programs require a thoughtful approach where media tells connects information, narrative, and people through their channels of influence in ways that spark interaction and circulation.

Please go to theconversationprism.com to download a free hi-res version for printing or for use in presentations.

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Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. More so, he humanizes technology’s causal effect to help people see people differently and understand what to do about it. He is an award-winning author and avid keynote speaker who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation and innovation.

Brian has authored several best-selling books including What’s the Future of Business (WTF), Engage! and The End of Business as Usual. His blog, BrianSolis.com, is ranked as a leading resource for insights into the future of business, new technology and marketing.

Contact Brian



  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo
  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo
  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo
  • Brian Solis, Future of Business Forum, Oslo