Controlled Media: Is It Right for Your Business or Agency?

Christy Walters


March 30, 2022 (Updated: May 4, 2023)

laptop with hand holding smart phone in front in focus researching controlled media

In markets where there’s an oversaturation of content, information, and news, it can feel challenging to find a way to have creative control over your media and stand out among the competition. Engaging in a controlled media strategy can help. In this article, we cover topics like:


What Is Controlled Media?

Controlled media is all content created directly by your company or brand, and the methods you use to share it with the public and your audience. It includes your messagingdesigns, and content placement. Marketers call it “controlled” media because the company or brand gets the final say on how to present the message and spin it for your audience. There isn’t outside interference from customers, journalists, or other sources.

What Are the Types of Controlled Media?

The two types of controlled media include:

Owned Media

Owned media are the marketing assets your business hosts and controls. It’s often used as a synonym for controlled media and includes both channels and content you create yourself. With owned media, you have creative authority over every aspect of the content, from creation to publication. You can also work with an agency solution that does it for you. Either way, your brand has 100% control over its design and production. It includes things like:


Owned media also has a focus on search engine optimization (SEO) because you can rely on organic methods to share that content. Popular owned media SEO strategies include:


Paid Media

Paid media includes the methods and strategies you use to get more traffic, reach, and attention on your owned media content. With paid media, you may not have complete control over the distribution channels or methods, but your brand orchestrates the messaging, audience segmentation, and other related factors to make sure you’re targeting the right leads. Common examples of paid media include:


Are There Other Types of Media?

types of media for a controlled media strategy

Image via SpinSucks

Yes, there are other types of media outside of owned and paid options. There are three or four, depending on who you ask. The ones that make up controlled media are only half the picture. Other types of media include:

Earned Media

Earned media is the relationships you build with outside sources to increase the reach and attention of your brand and its content. In the past, before digital marketing, this focused mostly on connecting with journalists or secondary sources to share your content with the masses. Now, with online and social content, it’s expanded to include other online relationships, such as:


Shared Media

In some media models, marketers incorporate shared media into the earned or owned media categories. This is because you often use social channels to control your content, but once it’s out in the world, people can transform that content into earned media by manipulating it for their own channels and purposes. In the digital age, it makes sense to have one area all its own that focuses on how social platforms affect your branding and media strategy. Shared media includes elements like:


Media Intersections

There are also areas where these media categories intersect, which present their own unique attributes for a marketing strategy. They include:

  • Paid and earned media: Help build your marketing communications through things like event promotion and influencer relationships.
  • Earned and shared media: Develop your community through processes like engagement, hiring brand ambassadors, or sharing user-generated content. This intersection also includes all partnership and collaboration efforts with other companies, brands, or organizations.
  • Shared and owned media: Create a social area for promotion and distribution, such as content curation and sharing through email, social, or related platforms.
  • Owned, paid, earned, and shared media: When all four areas come together, this helps build your brand reputation, such as authority in your field, thought leadership on relevant topics, and trust and credibility with your audience.


Why Should You Care About Controlled Media?

When paid and owned media intersect, as they do with controlled media, you create the right climate for lead generation. Lead generation is fostering client interest in your products or services to turn them into paying customers. You can use tools like email, content, and affiliate marketing, among other tactics, to make it happen. Aside from growing your paying customer pool, other reasons to care about controlled media include:

  • Power: With controlled media, you have the authority over what you share with the public and where it appears.
  • Reach: Using paid and owned media together helps you not just create engaging content, but spread it around the internet as far as possible to get the most attention.
  • Versatility: Using controlled media allows you to access a variety of channels and strategies to fit different clients, content types, and audience segmentations.
  • Budget considerations: Because controlled media uses both paid and organic methods, you can better balance your budget to make it work for what you want to accomplish, not letting it dictate what you can or can’t achieve.
  • Longevity: Organic content can take a long time to earn traction with the public, and paid media can do it quickly, but you lose that benefit when the campaign ends. By using controlled media and combining the two, you get the benefits of both, like quick access and extended presence and attention online.


Elements of a Controlled Media Strategy

There are three primary elements to consider when creating a controlled media strategy. They include:


Controlled media allows you to shape the context of your marketing messages. This is something you lose with other media types, earned media especially. Things like news stories or online reviews, types of earned media, don’t fall under the controlled umbrella. Your team and brand aren’t the primary authors or designers in those cases. You don’t have control over how those sources use the information and spin it for their own audiences.


Your owned media content serves as the basis of the controlled media strategy. The content includes the message you craft and the images you create. They’re tangible pieces people read and watch that tell your brand story. You’re the complete authority on how this process works. Content is what you use to influence and persuade leads that your brand, products, or services are the right choice for them through valuable information rather than direct selling.

It’s important to mention that content done right can take a lot of time and effort, but it’s well worth the payout. Your content creation process may include hiring writers and editors, training them on your brand voice and style guide, and then reviewing each piece before scheduling it for publication and syndication. At CopyPress, we specialize in content creation because we know how busy marketing professionals are. By engaging with us, you can have quality content delivered on an established basis by our team of expert writers, editors, and QA professionals who are all trained internally on your style guide. This allows you to spend as much or as little time as you’d like in the process, knowing you’ll get quality articles you’re happy to publish either way.


The community element focuses on the channels you use to share your content. While the content itself gets your message across, the community is where your customers find those pieces and give them space to interact with or react to each one. Community matters because it helps blend the media types, allowing your controlled media to infiltrate the other areas.

How To Create a Controlled Media Strategy

Creating a controlled media strategy relies on combining elements of owned and paid media and developing your branding to put out the right messages and visuals to target your audience. Follow these steps to create a successful controlled media strategy:

1. Do a Brand Analysis

What are your brand goals? Why do you want to engage in a controlled media strategy? Analyze your current brand marketing to understand what’s working and what messaging and visuals draw a receptive audience. During your research, note areas where your focus or promotion could be better. How could you improve those areas?

You can also review your company mission statement, handbook, and value propositions to see if there are other key segments of your business that you need to share with the public. These may help you better promote your content and services. To help with your brand audit, request your free content analysis report from CopyPress. The report tells you more about your brand content and how it compares to that of your top three competitors, and what content gap you’re currently experiencing. The information within also prepares you for conducting audience research by telling you keywords and topics on which they’re looking for content and answers.

“CopyPress gives us the ability to work with more dealership groups. We are able to provide unique and fresh content for an ever growing customer base. We know that when we need an influx of content to keep our clients ahead of the game in the automotive landscape, CopyPress can handle these requests with ease.”

Kevin Doory

Director of SEO at Auto Revo

2. Research Your Audience

The brand analysis lets you know what your company is about and what it values. But you’re not creating controlled media for yourself. You’re doing it for an audience. It’s important to learn who your audience is, what they like, and where they spend their time. What are their needs and pain points? For what problems do they need solutions? Having this information helps you better target the right people with your controlled media campaigns. It lets you perfect the visuals and messaging to reach them at the right time on any channel.

3. Create Content

Controlled media relies heavily on content. Use what you’ve learned about your brand and audience to develop pieces that are informative, engaging, and help answer customer questions and solve problems in your field. Content can take a variety of forms to help reach people where they are and how they like to consume it: written, visual, auditory, or a combination of these categories.

Related: 10 Important Factors When Creating Content

4. Optimize Your Media

As discussed, SEO is part of the owned media umbrella. Optimizing your content for search, social media, and user experience allows you to make sure your controlled media gets as much reach as possible. Some examples of optimization can include:

  • Conducting keyword research to ensure you’re targeting the right topics
  • Building your backlink profile to increase its authority
  • Working on-page with your content to ensure you’re using headings, brief paragraphs, text-to-visual balance, and lists to make the content scannable
  • Engaging in technical SEO by developing a site map to make your channels easier to crawl and navigate

5. Engage in Promotion

Use all your channels to promote your controlled media content. This means incorporating email lists, blogs and websites, your social media platforms, and any paid advertising methods in which you want to target. Engagement campaigns allow you to attract more views and traffic to your site. With more people visiting, you have a higher chance of capturing their attention and nurturing and converting those leads into paying clients.

6. Review the Results

Review the results at the end of every controlled media campaign. Look at your performance metrics, especially in areas that correlate with your overall business goals. For example, if one of your goals is to generate more qualified leads, look at the number of sales calls you’ve taken since starting the campaign and compare it to the numbers from before. You may also look at other types of inquiries and web traffic or do social listening to understand if your controlled media efforts are spilling into shared and earned channels.

7. Make Changes

After examining your metrics and results, you can plan for your next controlled media campaign. You may find areas that worked that you want to replicate next time. You may also find areas that didn’t perform as well as you expected that can benefit from improvement. It’s important to research new paid and owned media channels, content, and strategies continuously to help improve all future campaigns.

Using controlled media can help you dictate how your leads view your brand, and may even influence how they respond to it. But you don’t have to undertake a controlled media strategy alone. Contact CopyPress to learn how partnering with a content marketing agency helps you craft your controlled media messages and pieces to increase leads, brand trust, and loyalty.

Author Image - Christy Walters
Christy Walters

CopyPress writer

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