What Is Paid Media, Plus How To Improve Its ROAS

What Is Paid Media, Plus How To Improve Its ROAS

Yusuf Shurbaji
May 12, 2023
min read


  • Paid media is a marketing strategy involving the use of sponsored ads and ad spots to promote branded content, typically used in conjunction with owned media (e.g., website, blog, social media accounts).
  • This strategy drives brand exposure, promotes content, and broadcasts information about the brand and its products. It's useful for initiatives like announcing a new product launch to targeted audiences.
  • There are numerous types of paid media ads, offering diversity in marketing campaigns. These include pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which is cost-efficient as payment is made only when the ad is clicked.
  • Social media ads are another effective type of paid media, offering platforms like Facebook that enable demographic targeting based on pages liked, location, and other factors.
  • Influencer marketing is an emerging form of paid media that involves paying influencers on social media platforms to advertise products or services, capitalizing on their followers' trust and engagement.


As you plan and enact a comprehensive, compelling marketing campaign, you’ll use many different types of ads to build brand awareness and draw target audience members to your store. Paid media ads are some of the most effective and common digital marketing strategies you might use in your marketing campaigns.

But what is paid media, exactly, and how can you improve your return on ad spend when you use paid media campaigns? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more.

What Is Paid Media?

In a nutshell, paid media is a content marketing method where organizations promote branded pieces of content through sponsored ads and ad spots. 

For example, imagine that you have a compelling advertisement for a product you sell. To make sure as many people see the ad as possible, you pay for a sponsored ad spot on a partnered website to expand your marketing reach. That process is paid media advertising.

Think of paid media as any form of sponsorship in advertising. It's clear, straightforward, and audiences know that paid media ads are marketing messages. Still, it can be highly effective and beneficial to your marketing campaign if leveraged properly and strategically.

Paid ads can encompass many types of media and formats, including display ads, video ads, billboard ads, Facebook ads and LinkedIn ads, Google ads, and more. As such, they’ll be core components of your digital marketing efforts. Use them to attract potential customers and maximize the ROI of ad campaigns.

How Does Paid Media Differ from Owned Media or Earned Media?

It might be easier to understand paid media channels by comparing them to owned and earned media.

Owned media is any content that you (or your business, more specifically) are totally in control of. Owned media includes your website, blog, social media accounts, and retail store window posters, for example. The primary goal of owned media content is to offer value to leads and prospects as they move down the purchase funnel. They’re more controlled and less overtly promotional than other forms of marketing media.

Earned media, on the other hand, is any media exposure that you earn through word-of-mouth or a positive reputation. 

You can get and use earned media through:

  • Phenomenal marketing content you previously put out
  • SEO or search engine optimization results
  • Stellar customer experiences

Earned media can include positive reviews, recommendations, testimonials, and even journalist spotlights or articles. Earned media can generate positive brand awareness and draw new customers to your brand, especially if you're rebranding or trying to build up a customer base from scratch.

In the end, earned, owned, and paid media should all be used in combination with each other. That way, you spread your marketing messages as far as possible, and your target audience members are exposed to marketing materials in different ways. For example, your paid media strategy should use pop-ups and search ads with owned ads in available ad space on your website.

Why Is Paid Media Beneficial?

Paid media is beneficial primarily for driving exposure, promoting content, and spreading the word about your brand and its products. It’s commercial advertising, plain and simple.

For example, if you want to announce a new flagship product launch to target audience members who are likely to buy from your brand, purchasing paid media ad spots on a partnered website or social media could be a wise strategy. 

The goal isn’t necessarily to convince new visitors to trust your brand – it’s to directly advertise a product you want people to buy when those people are already likely to check your site out.

In this way, paid media can be beneficial for bolstering exposure and making your brand feel like a major market force in its niche. In addition, paid media is beneficial because you can simply pay for it rather than work up to it, as you do with earned media.

If you have plenty of marketing cash and want to boost brand awareness, paid media can help you do that in no time. You can spread paid media ads and materials further and faster than owned media, which is limited to your site, store, or social media profiles.

What Are Examples of Paid Media?

A woman looking at a sale advertisement on a phone.

Paid media doesn’t just come in one form or variety. In fact, paid media is highly varied – there are many different types of paid media ads and marketing materials you can leverage for your campaigns. Here are some of the most popular and effective examples.

Paid Search or Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Advertising

PPC advertising involves putting ads on Google search engine results pages (SERPs) by bidding for ad spots related to target keywords. PPC advertising can be highly effective and cost-efficient, as you only pay each time someone clicks on one of your ads (hence the name).

Paid media PPC spots are ideal for grabbing traffic from Google and the wider Internet, so they’re good tools to build up your customer base from as broad a pool as possible.

Social Media Ads

Social media ads are exactly what they sound like – paid media advertisement spots on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and more. Social media ads are great places to get new customers as well, especially if you use each platform’s designated advertising tools.

For example, Facebook allows you to target your social media ads based on pages liked, demographic information, location, and so on. They can be highly effective for businesses that rely on a lot of local traffic or customers, such as small businesses that offer in-person services (e.g., dental offices, veterinarian services, etc.).

High-quality social media ads and banner ads will boost your click-through rate and have high lead generation.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a new and highly effective form of paid media. With influencer marketing, you pay one or more influencers on social media platforms to advertise your products or services. These individuals are somewhat like brand ambassadors, but instead of doing the marketing for free, you pay them for their efforts.

Influencer marketing, however, is only as good as the influencer and their audience. You should only partner with influencers who match your brand well and entertain your ideal demographics.

Print Ads

Print ads in newspapers and magazines can still be effective, even in the digital age. You should use print ads if you are trying to reach a specific target group – for example, if you sell luxury men’s apparel, ordering some print ads in male-oriented magazines could be a good way to drive traffic to your website or retail store.

Television Commercials

You can’t forget television commercials, one of the oldest forms of paid media in the modern era. Television commercials are great for driving national attention to your brand, but they can also be very good at getting local customers to check out your brick-and-mortar store.

How Can You Improve Paid Media ROAS?

Checklist asking whether a you know about ROAS?

Your paid media advertisements will only be as effective as you optimize them. After all, a paid ad you place unwisely – or that you design so it doesn’t resonate with your target audience members – won’t be worth the expense by any metric. Let’s take a look at how to improve paid media return on ad spend.

Optimize Your Conversion Rate

First, you’ll want to optimize your conversion rate. The conversion rate is the percentage of site visitors or prospects who convert into customers, subscribers, or some other positive element.

You can optimize your conversion rate in a lot of different ways. For example, you can redesign the layout or look of your paid media ads so they’re more visually compelling or include a copy or words that resonate with your target audience.

Furthermore, you can optimize your conversion rate by determining where your paid media materials route your visitors. For example, if a paid media ad sends a prospective customer to a landing page, you need to make sure that landing page is:

  • Intuitive and easy to navigate through
  • Fast loading (generally under 50 ms)
  • High-value – it needs to offer a clear discount or buying incentive to anyone who sees it

Optimizing your conversion rate in this way will not only help you improve paid media ROAS. It’ll also help you earn more revenue and a higher subscriber count. Prismfly’s CRO experts can help you get started.

Choose the Right Target Keywords
Magnifying glass hovering over a set of dice that spell the word "keyword."

Next, be sure to use the right target keywords for your paid media materials, including social media ads, PPC ads, and so on. Using the right keywords is especially important for PPC paid media ads.

Certain target keywords will be likely to resonate with your target audience based on their searches, their desires, and their demographics. You should do plenty of keyword research to determine which words you should use in your paid media materials.

Keep in mind that the most competitive keywords in your niche may be particularly expensive to use with PPC advertising. Depending on your marketing budget, it might be better to go after mid-range keywords that are still reasonably competitive or popular among your target audience.

Do A/B Testing

A/B testing is a method of testing two similar versions of the same page or ad against each other. Create two almost identical versions of the same paid media ad, then put them out in similar ad spots. Measure which of the two paid media materials performs better. Once you know the answer, implement the higher-performing ad’s design into other paid media advertisements going forward.

A/B testing can be a great way to maximize the ROAS for all of your paid media marketing. You should continually practice A/B testing and iterating on the effectiveness of your marketing materials, your website pages, and any other content your target audience may interact with.

The Bottom Line

Paid media ads will form the cornerstone of any wide-ranging marketing campaign. If you want to maximize conversions and get as many customers as possible, you can and should leverage paid media ads with the ROAS optimization tips mentioned above.

You can also take advantage of more focused, specialized assistance when you contact Prismfly today. Our experienced specialists can help you boost your conversion rate in no time, plus help you make the most of your paid media materials. Contact us today!