What Is Paid Media: Types & Example

Find out the differences between paid media and PPC in this article. Many people use the term paid media interchangeably with PPC advertising, but it often refers to a much broader advertising scope as well. You will learn what is (and what it isn’t), how different types of paid media work, and how they differ from each other in this complete guide.

Paid Media

Any marketing effort that includes a paid placement is considered paid media. Cost-per-click (CPC) and paid media are often used interchangeably. But it’s important to understand the differences between paid media. Generally, paid media is a channel, tactic, or strategy within the digital site and does not specify particular channels or even between search, social, or awareness advertising.

How Earned, Owned, and Paid Media Differ?

Earned media and owned media are integral parts of a successful brand strategy in addition to paid media. The three types of media serve different purposes. Let’s examine the key differences between them.

 Earned Media:

 In other words, earned media is any form of exposure a brand receives other than this media.

Owned Media:

Owned media is any content created and controlled by your brand.

Earned media examples include:

  • Customer social sharing.
  • Reviews from customers.
  • Public relations (external media coverage).
  • Examples of owned media include:
  • Website of yours.
  • Channels on social media.
  • Posts on the blog.

Types Of Paid Media Channels

After defining paid media, let’s look at the different types of media channels and their purposes. It’s important to note the difference between ad formats and ad channels before diving into paid media channels. There are different types of media ads that are shown on a particular channel. Examples include:

  • Ad for a search engine.
  • Advertisement video.
  • Ad displayed on a screen.
  • An advertisement on a banner.

We will focus on the channels themselves below since ad formats are important and will differ based on the channel. Other paid media channels not listed here, such as direct mail or ads. Here, we will focus on digital channels that have a more physical presence.

Google and Bing are the most common platforms for paid searches. In the United States, Google’s sites generate around 61% of user searches, making it the leading search engine. Across its network of sites, Microsoft (Bing) generates almost 27% of searches. Users also leverage the following less commonly used search engines:

  • The Yahoo website.
  • You can ask the network.
  • The AOL networks.

Text-based ads are the most common format on search engines. Other formats, such as Shopping ads, may be shown depending on the context of a user’s search. Typically, shopping ads include a product image, name, price, and description.

Paid Social

In recent years, paid social platforms have experienced a significant transformation. In addition to having more social platforms to choose from, brands also have more ways to advertise on them.

    Paid social platforms include:

  • Facebook (Meta).
  • The Instagram app.
  • The LinkedIn networks.
  • The TikTok app.
  • The Pinterest website.
  • The Snapchat app.
  • The Twitter platform.

Most social media ads appear within a user’s newsfeed as they scroll, either as static images or as videos as the main visual. In addition, most paid social platforms offer different placement types for sponsored ads, such as in between user stories on Instagram and Snapchat

.B2B companies benefit more from some paid social platforms than B2C companies. LinkedIn advertising, for instance, is mostly used by B2B companies to market their products or services. Brands in B2C or e-commerce may be better suited to platforms like TikTok and Snapchat. Make sure your target audience is also on the paid social channel you choose.

Programmatic & Display

Depending on the network, display ads appear on numerous websites and apps. Programmatic refers to how, when, and where ads are published, whereas display refers to how they are displayed. The Google Display Network (GDN) is a closed network owned by Google that differs from programmatic. Here are the channels programmatic uses for its ad buys.

Affiliate Marketing

A company or brand pays affiliates for each sale they generate. Bloggers are a popular channel for affiliate marketing. They mention another product or brand in their posts and then make money for every sale they generate. By working with other popular influencers in your field, you can expand and scale the reach of your brand.

  • Affiliate marketing channels include:
  • Lists of email addresses.
  • Sites that offer coupons.
  • Sites for reviews.

In affiliate marketing, you can pick your partners and publishers. You should always choose partners who have the same goals and objectives as your company.

Examples Of Paid Media

Paid media channels and ad formats are married here. Listed below are examples of paid media ads from popular channels. These examples can provide context when deciding what types of paid media to use.

Search Examples

Google’s first two positions when searching for “top parental control apps” are examples of search ads. On Microsoft Bing, the ads appear slightly differently: Shopping ads appear when searching for a product like “Nike shoes for women.”.

Paid Social Examples

Within each social platform’s newsfeed, ads appear differently. An example of a LinkedIn newsfeed can be found here. An example of a Facebook ad newsfeed. In addition to its “Stories” placement, Instagram also offers ads.

Display Examples

Depending on the website or app, display ads come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to responsive ads and retargeting (or remarketing) ads, native ads, and social ads, display ads can be used to raise awareness of your brand, product, or service. Display targeting options include contextual targeting, interest targeting, and topic targeting, among others.

Affiliate Examples

Sometimes associate ads can be difficult to spot. Examples include “Listicle” articles, where a publisher is paid by another brand to appear in a “Top” article. You’ll notice, however, that this publisher is paid by the brands for exclusive placement in this example’s advertising disclosure:


You should not fully rely on paid media to drive sustainable growth on its own. Although it is an important component of any marketing strategy. Your brand’s paid media channels should be determined by your goals and where your target audience spends time. With a holistic plan that includes paid, earned, and owned media, your company can maximize customer reach and reduce marketing costs.

More resources: 

  • The 5 types of social media networks and their benefits
  • A Guide to Successful Social Advertising with Paid social media
  • The Complete Guide to Social Media Marketing