What is Earned Media Value and how is it calculated?

Earned Media Value, or EMV, is one of the most widely used metrics for influencer marketing campaigns—but it’s also one of the most commonly misunderstood.

May 24, 2023

What is Earned Media Value (EMV) ?

To understand Earned Media Value (EMV), it is crucial to establish the meaning of Earned Media.

Earned media refers to any content featuring a brand that is created by external sources, such as influencer, journalist, blogger, customer, social media user or even employee, rather than by the brand itself. This can include coverage in newspapers, magazines, customer reviews, UGC, word-of-mouths, etc.

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

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

Earned Media Value is typically calculated by comparing the cost of generating the same amount of exposure through paid advertising to the value of the earned media coverage received.

For example, if a brand receives $50,000 worth of media coverage through press mentions and social media shares, and the cost of generating the same exposure through paid advertising would be $100,000, then the Earned Media Value for the company is $50,000.

Why is Earned Media Value important ?

The primary advantage of Earned Media Value (EMV) measurement is that it quantifies the value of the engagement a brand receives through earned media channels that are not part of paid campaigns or owned accounts.

This can help social media, marketing, and PR employee in more accurately targeting the appropriate audience and persuading leadership to endorse campaigns focused on earned media.

Then, the trustworthiness of earned media in the eyes of consumers makes it a highly valuable asset for brands.

Because earned media is generated by third-party sources (not by the brand itself), it is often perceived as more credible and trustworthy than paid media or advertising.

Indeed, consumers tend to be more receptive to messages that come from sources they trust, because they reflect an impartial opinion of the influencer or content creator.

When a brand is mentioned in a positive context by a trusted third-party source, such as a reputable news outlet or a well-respected blogger, consumers are more likely to view that brand favorably and consider it when making purchasing decisions.

What are the limits of Earned Media Value?

A major disadvantage of relying on Earned Media Value (EMV) as a primary metric is its inconsistency in calculation, which may result in slight variations in its meaning across different business contexts. This methodological ambiguity makes it challenging to compare with other posts and brands metrics.

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 distort data and results.

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

And last but not least, let's not overlook the social aspect of social media. As they are composed of sensitive individuals, a post cannot be reduced to a mere number of likes or comments. In fact, it is more interesting to take into account the enthusiasm contained within each comment rather than the number of comments themselves.

How is Earned Media Value calculated?

The computation of Earned Media Value employs parameters that are divided into two categories, namely:

  • Exposure refers to the number of people who have come across your brand through this media coverage and efforts of content creators. Typically, the higher the exposure, the greater the likelihood of generating engagement.
  • Engagement refers to the various actions taken voluntarily by internet users regarding the published content. This includes the number of clicks on links included in the content, as well as likes, shares, comments, mentions, reactions, and more.

EMV calculation method #1 : Ayzenberg index

This is the most commonly used technique.

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

The Ayzenberg index allocates a market value to each social media KPI (these values are evolutive). This value is then multiplied by the number of engagement per KPI.

Here is an example to better understand.

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

The Earned Media Value indicates that the cost of the post is 75 € (0.3×250).

But that's not all! The next step is to do the same calculation for each type of engagement and then add them up.

The various components of engagement differ according to social media platforms, and the same applies to their indices.

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

EMV calculation method #2 : Impressions x CPM

Another simpler formula involves multiplying the number of impressions or views generated by the earned media by a CPM (cost per thousand impressions). The CPM is typically based on the average cost of advertising within a particular business or market.

For example, if a brand is mentioned in a blog post that receives 50,000 views, and the average CPM rate for their industry is $10, the EMV for that blog post would be:

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

This means that the value of the exposure generated by the blog post is equivalent to $500 if the brand had to pay for it through advertising.

Note that there are many other methods to calculate the 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 because it helps measure the impact and performance of influencer campaigns. It enables brands to quantify the value of their earned media placements by determining the cost of similar placements if they were to be paid for.

EMV also helps evaluate the return on investment (ROI) of an influencer campaign, and it can provide insights on how to optimize future campaigns. By calculating this metric, marketers can assess the actual impact of user-generated content, which can be more challenging to measure than other types of marketing efforts.

Additionally, Earned Media Value can be used to compare the effectiveness of different campaigns or influencers, as well as to justify strategy and investment in social media marketing to senior management or business investors.

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. The content shared through these channels is fully managed and controlled by employee's brand, and they are responsible for creating, publishing, and distributing the content.

Earned media refers to the publicity and exposure that a brand receives through word-of-mouth or third-party mentions, such as social media shares, press coverage, reviews, and recommendations. This type of media is not directly controlled by the brand and is usually the result of positive interactions between the company and its audience.

Paid media refers to the promotional activities that a brand pays for, such as digital ads, sponsored social media posts, and influencer partnerships. This type of media is directly paid for by the company and is typically used to increase brand advocacy, reach, and engagement.

Difference between Paid, Owned and Earned Medias

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

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