What is Earned Media Value and how is it calculated?

Earned Media Value, or EMV, is one of the most widely used metrics in influencer marketing — but it’s also one of the most commonly misunderstood.
What is Earned Media Value and how is it calculated?

What is Earned Media Value (EMV) ?

First of all, to understand Earned Media Value (EMV), it's crucial to know what Earned Media is.

Earned Media refers to all content that talk about a brand, but that are created by third-party sources and not by the brand itself. It can be published by influencers, journalists, bloggers, customers or even employee.

This can include coverage in newspapers, magazines, customer reviews, UGC, word-of-mouth, etc.

Earned Media Value is a marketing metric used to calculate the value of the exposure generated for a brand or company through this unpaid media coverage.

EMV seeks to quantify the impact of such coverage on a brand's reputation, visibility and, ultimately, its bottom line.

Earned Media Value is usually derived by comparing the cost of paid advertising with the value of the media coverage obtained.

Why is Earned Media Value important ?

The key benefit of Earned Media Value (EMV) is to quantify the value of the engagement a brand receives via third-party-generated content, other than that created by the brand itself or paid-for publications.

The reliability of earned media in consumers' eyes makes it a valuable asset for brands.

As they are generated by third-party sources (and not by the brand itself), they are often perceived as more credible and trustworthy than paid media.

Consumers tend to be more receptive to messages from sources they trust, as they reflect the unbiased opinion of the influencer or content creator.

When a brand is mentioned positively by a trusted third-party source, such as a reputable media outlet or a respected blogger, consumers are more likely to view that brand in a positive light and take it into account in their purchasing decisions.

What are the limits of Earned Media Value?

One of the main drawbacks of using Earned Media Value (EMV) as a primary metric is the inconsistency of its calculation.

This can lead to slight variations in its meaning depending on the business context. This lack of methodology uniformity should prompt caution when comparing your results with other brands.

Also, if not taken into account, the volume of fake accounts or individuals who tag their friends multiple times in the same social media post can skew data and results.

Then Earned Media Value seems to be disconnected from the final return on investment (ROI). So, if I spend a certain marketing budget on my influencer campaign, what will be its real worth in terms of sales and profits?

And let's not forget the social aspect of social media.

As they are made up of sensitive individuals, a message cannot be reduced to a mere number of impressions, likes or comments. It's actually more interesting to consider the enthusiasm contained in each comment than the number of comments themselves.

How is Earned Media Value calculated?

Calculating Earned Media Value (EMV) involves parameters that fall into 2 categories:

  • Exposure refers to the number of people who have discovered your brand thanks to exposure and content creators' efforts. Typically, the higher the reach, the greater the likelihood of generating engagement.
  • Engagement refers to actions taken voluntarily by users on published content. This includes the number of clicks on links included in the content, as well as impressions, likes, shares, comments, mentions, reactions and so on.

EMV calculation method #1 : Ayzenberg index

This is the most commonly used technique.

The Ayzenberg Index is an proprietary method of calculating Earned Media Value, developed by Ayzenberg Group, a digital marketing agency. The Ayzenberg Index focuses on social media engagement, and uses a mix of factors to calculate EMV.

The Ayzenberg Index assigns a market value to each social media metric (these values are subject to change). This value is then multiplied by the volume of KPIs obtained.

Here's an example to help you understand.

Let's imagine that the value of an Instagram like is €0.30, and that the post has received 250 likes.

The Earned Media Value is therefore €75 (0.3×250).

But that's just the beginning! The next step is to make the same calculation for each type of engagement (comments, shares, clicks...) and add them up.

As the components of engagement differ from one social media to another, so do their market values.

Examples of market value for each social media KPI
Examples of market value for each social media metric

EMV calculation method #2 : Impressions x CPM

Another simpler formula is to multiply the number of impressions generated by earned media by a CPM (cost per thousand impressions). The CPM is generally based on the average cost of advertising found within a particular company or market.

For example, if a brand is mentioned in a blog post that receives 50,000 impressions, and the average CPM for its industry is $10, the EMV for that blog post would be as follows:

50,000 impressions ÷ 1,000 (to convert to thousands) x $10 CPM = $500 EMV

This means that the exposure value generated by the blog post is equivalent to $500 ( should the brand pay for it through advertising).

Note that there are many other methods to calculate Earned Media Value.

Why Earned Media Value is key in Influence Marketing?

Earned Media Value is an essential key performance indicator (KPI) in influence marketing, as it helps measure the impact and performance of influencer campaigns. It enables brands to quantify the value of their earned media reach by determining the cost of similar placements if they were paid for.

EMV also makes it possible to evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of an influencer campaign, compare it with previous ones and optimize future campaigns.

Marketing pros can assess the real impact of user-generated content, which can be more difficult to measure than other marketing content.

Earned Media Value is also used to justify strategy and investment in social media marketing to corporate management or investors.

Take a look at this new blog post to learn about the 4 types of influencers.

What is the difference between owned media, earned media and paid media ?

Owned media refers to the digital channels and assets that a brand or company owns and controls, such as their website, blog, and social media accounts. Content shared through these channels are fully managed and monitored by employee's brand, who are in charge of content creation, publication and distribution.

Earned Media refers to the advertising and exposure a brand receives through word-of-mouth or third-party mentions, such as social media shares, media coverage, reviews and recommendations. This kind of media is not directly controlled by the brand, and generally results from positive interactions between the company and its audience.

Paid Media refers to ad space purchased by a brand, such as digital ads, sponsored posts on social media and influencer marketing partnerships. These media are paid for directly by the company and are typically used to increase brand advocacy, reach and engagement.

In a nutshell, earned media are generated by third-party sources, owned media are controlled by the brand itself, and paid media are paid for directly by the brand.

Difference between Paid, Owned and Earned Medias

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