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How to measure earned media value?

Earned media value is an invaluable metric for many PR and marketing professionals. Yet earned media value is often regarded as a vanity metric. In fact, it is not, you just have to know how to calculate the earned media value.

Earned media value will demonstrate the impact PR and marketing activities have on the company’s success. If your campaign achieved its goals, the EMV score should reflect the increase in your KPIs.

This rule apply to various KPIs. Increased earned media value will reflect increase in leads and sales, but also a boost in brand awareness.

EMV is not an ideal metric. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the earned media value.

Here’s what’s ahead of us today:

  • What is earned media value?
  • How to calculate earned media value?
  • How do you calculate earned media value?
  • The benefits of earned media value
  • The drawbacks of earned media value
  • Should you measure earned media value?
  • What is earned media value?

    Earned media value is a way of measuring the value of content gained through PR and marketing activities.

    Earned media are media that mentions your brand, product, or service outside of the channels you own. An example of an earned media is a blog posts, referral, influencer marketing campaign, or a review.

    In other words, earned media is a form of a word-of-mouth marketing.

    That distinguishes earned media, from owned media, which are all marketing channels you own, for example your social media profiles or company blog. The third pillar of online presence is paid media. This kind of media entails all paid ads campaigns, for example, Google Ads or Facebook Ads.

    That’s why, the earned media value is so hard to calculate and is by many considered a vanity metric.

    Unfortunately, PR managers need the EMV to measure the results of their work. Not only to show their bosses that their work has a positive impact on the business, but to improve their activities. After all, if you don’t measure something, you can’t improve it.

    Which brings us to our second point.

    How to measure earned media value?

    There is no one, widely agreed method of measuring the earned media value. Various sources propose different measuring models.

    There are, however, some common metrics you should take into account while measuring the results of an earned media campaign.

    The most common earned media value formula includes:

    EMV = impressions x CPT x ???

    What does it mean? Let me explain!

    • Impressions. This metric indicates the potential audience that might have come into contact with the message.
    • Cost per thousand. You multiply the impressions by cost per thousands of what you would expect from paid advertising.
    • Another metric that is used to align the results with the rest of data processed by the PR department.

    You can see the problem with measuring the earned media value right there.

    The metrics you need to measure earned media value are vague and ambiguous.

    There is a better way to calculate the earned media value. To do that, you will need a media monitoring tool.

    I recommend Brand24, not only because I work here, but because it’s one of the most robust and affordable tools on the market. And that’s not only our opinion, but also Buffer’s.

    Brand24 monitors all major social media outlets, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Twitch, and TikTok.

    Test it yourself! Brand24 offers a 14-day free trial (no credit card required!)

    How do you calculate earned media value?

    There is a simple solution to the problem — take a look at metrics that will bring undeniable value to your PR activities.

    These metrics will help you improve your tactics, spot mistakes, and bring your PR and marketing game to the next level.

    Which EMV metrics should you take into account?


    Engagement will tell you how the earned content resonates with the target audience.

    This metric is a better, more informative equivalent of reach as it provides you with hard numbers. Based on the numbers you can form actionable insights.

    table showing engagement levels, a key metrics for measuring earned media value

    Engagement helps you determine the value of the content. The more engaged the audience is, the more interested they are in the piece of content. This can help you determine the value of earned media.

    Robust engagements levels will help you boost your brand awareness, which can indirectly influence lead generation, and, ultimately, sales.


    Sentiment is another important aspect of earned media value. Sentiment has a direct impact on your brand reputation. Brand reputation can directly affect your sales.

    If you use the traditional earned media value formula, you might assume that a widely shared piece of content is a good thing.

    a graph showing sentiment analysis, a key metric for measuring the earned media value

    But don’t forget, that bad news online travels with the speed of light, or even faster. A negative review could damage your brand. By the same logic, a positive sentiment could have a positive effect on sales.

    Earned media value calculations should take sentiment analysis into account.

    Social media reach

    Social media reach is a very controversial metric. It’s true, nowadays, the calculations can’t be 100% accurate.

    Yet social media reach is a valuable auxiliary metric. I wouldn’t base my PR KPI’s on this metric, but it is an indicator whether things are progressing in the right direction or not.

    table showing social media reach, a metric useful for measuring earned media value

    Moreover, if you monitor social media reach over time, you’ll be able to discover seasonal fluctuations.

    The share of voice

    The share of voice is essential for measuring the earned media value.

    The share of voice is a metric that tells you what part of the whole discussion was generated by a certain online account.

    This is helpful in two ways.

    First, if you cooperate with an influencer, you will be able to assess the impact of the campaign. You will see whether the message resonated online with the right crowd. Once you combine the share of voice with sentiment analysis, you will get the data you need to assess the results of your PR campaign.

    table showing the share of voice, metrics useful for measuring the earned media value

    Secondly, the share of voice will provide a much needed benchmark. As long as you can’t put the results of the earned media campaign in a context, you won’t know whether the campaign yield satisfying results.

    The benefits of earned media value

    Once you read all about measuring the earned media value, you might start to wonder whether it makes sense to go for all this trouble.

    Investing in earned media can have many benefits for your business. A thorough earned media strategy will help you increase your bottom line.

    Earned media works just like word-of-mouth marketing. This form of advertising gives your brand credibility and builds trust between you and the audience.

    Earned media will serve as a trustworthy review of your product or service. Since more and more customers rely on online reviews, earned media will be a significant decision making factor.

    Investing in earned media helps in reaching brand new audiences. Building your own community is definitely worth the effort, but the process is along and resource consuming.

    Earned media strategy will allow you to reach new communities. This will result in higher brand awareness levels and, ultimately, increased sales.

    Moreover, earned media is often an evergreen type of content. Once it gets online traction, the content will stay online, attracting new potential customers and spreading the good word.

    The drawbacks of earned media value

    Unfortunately, investing in earned media value also has its drawbacks.

    To make the most informed decision, you should be aware of earned media disadvantages.

    The first problem with the earned media value is described in the beginning of this article.

    Earned media value is hard to calculate correctly. And by correctly, I mean a way that brings the most actionable insights to your company.

    You can counteract this drawback by developing standard earned media value measures.

    Another difficulty when it comes to implementing earned media as a full-blown strategy, is finding the right media outlets that should review your product or service.

    When choosing the right media outlet, you should take into account the engagement the influencer generates. It’s better to create a campaign with someone who has lower followers number, but high engagement. This means that the message will resonate well with the audience.

    The chances are, the best public profiles are already in your network. To find them, log into your Brand24 account and take a look at the Analysis tab.

    Once you scroll down, you should take a closer at the Top Public Profiles list. The best influencers for an earned media campaign are already talking about your business niche.

    There is one more drawback of an earned media campaign. Contrary to content marketing or social media, earned media cannot be a full-blown marketing strategy.

    Earned media is a great addition to other marketing activities, but you can’t rely solely on others marketing channels.

    Earned media, unlike paid or owned media, can backfire and damage your brand reputation. You will never have 100% control over what is being said about your brand.

    Should you measure earned media value?

    Earned media value is a tricky marketing metric.

    On the one hand, earned media can help you elevate your marketing efforts and achieve your ultimate goal, be it increased brand awareness or increased sales levels.

    What’s more, earned media can help you build trust in your brand.

    On the other hand, measuring earned media value is not an easy task. You usually need a robust strategy to measure the impact of earned media. But the result is worth the effort!


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    Content Manager at Brand24. An avid reader and amateur baker. Passionate about mountains, travelling, and jazz.