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Tips & Guides — 09 May 2023

What is Earned Media Value

Earned Media Value: Formula, Benefits, and Importance 2022

The concept of earned media value (EMV) has long been used by marketers to quantify what can seem like abstract value to those from outside the field and to prove the return on investment (ROI) of marketing.

In this post, we’ll be looking at what EMV means to businesses today, how to calculate EMV, some important things to take into account when doing so, and special considerations for influencer marketing campaigns.

What Is Earned Media Value (EMV)?

Earned media refers to publicity that is earned rather than bought or owned. This basic definition distinguishes earned media from advertising (paid media) and branding (owned media).

In some marketing frameworks, such as the PESO model shown here, a fourth category – shared media – is also included. Shared media refers to content that is created by your business but distributed by the public. Because you create the content, you technically own shared media, but you have to earn the shares. As such, shared media straddles the concepts of both earned and owned media.

Earned Media Value

The most elementary form of earned media is when knowledge of your brand is shared by word-of-mouth. If someone likes your product and chooses to tell their friends about it, you have earned their advocacy.

Earned media value is a concept in marketing and public relations (PR) that attempts to quantify the monetary value of earned media.

Before social media, earned media consisted mostly of press coverage. And in a previous era of marketing, earning media was all about getting your brand represented in newspaper stories, or talked about on television and the radio.

Of course, earned media in the form of mass media coverage is still relevant, but these days when marketers talk about EMV they are most commonly referring to a kind of digital earned media that trades in social media impressions. In the context of digital marketing, EMV is all about social media engagement – it’s a way of measuring the ROI of social media campaigns.

So how exactly do you measure the value of your earned media? After all, even discrete units of social media engagement such as likes and shares have to be translated into financial terms if you’re to talk about them as having monetary value.

Formula of Earned Media Value

The equation for calculating EMV can look slightly different depending on who you ask. But besides different phrasing, all the variations follow the same basic principle. Here’s the version of the earned media value formula that we use at Affise:

EMV = Impressions x CPT x variable publicity metric

Before we go into detail about how to calculate EMV, it’s worth clarifying what the various components of the formula exactly mean.

Impressions: in the language of social media marketing, impressions count the total exposure of a given advert, post, tweet, and so on. We’ll get to the different ways platforms measure impressions later but for now, let’s stick to a single basic definition: an impression is each time a social media user sees a piece of content.

CPT: is the cost per thousand impressions (also sometimes called CPM, standing for cost per mile) charged by social media companies. CPT advertising stands in contrast to models in which payment is only triggered by a mutually agreed-upon activity, such as pay-per-click. Using CPT when calculating EMV allows for a comparison of the ROI for EMV and paid social media advertising.

Variable Publicity Metric: the variable publicity metric acts as an adjustment factor allowing you to tweak the formula depending on the specific marketing activities. The exact metric used is typically chosen to reflect the goals and outcomes of a campaign. For example, while engagement or average conversion rate don’t indicate EMV alone, they’re useful benchmarks for measuring the success of a campaign that can be included in the EMV formula as variable metrics.

Metric system Executive

How to Calculate EMV

Once you know the basic formula, calculating EMV is simply a matter of gathering the necessary values and plugging them into the equation.

Impressions and CPT are fairly straightforward and should be easy enough to calculate assuming you have an efficient data pipeline set up as part of your campaign. If a campaign includes different social media apps and websites, or you need to synchronize the data streams of multiple marketing partners, consider using Affise’s dedicated data transfer platform CPAPI.

When it comes to your publicity variable, there are several options for how you can calculate this.

Engagement Metrics

Social media engagement metrics measure how much people actually engage with social content. It’s useful to include one in your EMV formula as impressions alone don’t measure whether people are actually noticing your content or just scrolling past it. Likewise, measuring likes, clicks, and shares without taking into account total impressions is only telling half the story.

Common engagement metrics include:

  • Likes per post
  • Shares per post
  • Number of retweets
  • Comments per post
  • Clicks per post


Of course, not all engagement is positive. Without including sentiment into your calculations, content that receives a large volume of negative publicity could easily appear as performing well and having a high EMV when in fact the opposite is true.

Employing sentiment analysis tools to help gauge whether your content marketing is being positively or negatively received can add depth and context to your EMV calculations.

Social Media Reach

Social media reach is an important consideration for any digital marketing strategy. It refers to the total number of users who have encountered your content. Reach is a metric that is typically lower than your total impressions because if a user is shown the same content more than once, this increases the number of impressions but not the reach.

Brand post and engagement

Reach is also different from engagement which measures how many people both see and interact with content.

Factors to take into account in calculating EMV


An impression is each time a piece of content is shown to a user but there are also different types of impressions to take into account.

  • Organic Impressions count the number of times people see content via a direct, unpaid encounter with your social account.
  • Paid Impressions refer to the number of times people see content that you have paid to promote.
  • Viral Impressions are the number of times people see content that is shared or published by a third party who you haven’t paid to do so.

Cost per thousand impressions

Cost per thousand impressions (CPT) is the most common pricing model in online advertising. If you pay $1 CPT, this means you’ll pay $1 every time your ad is seen 1,000 times on the internet.

Part of the reason marketers calculate EMV is so that they can compare the success of their owned media with that of paid advertisements. That’s because earned media isn’t actually free, Even if we think of it as not being paid for in the same sense as ads, you still need to pay to produce the content itself.

CPT allows you to compare the cost and ROI of paid ads versus employing marketers and creatives, as well as providing them with the resources they need.

Factors to take into account in calculating EMV

Other variables that impact the two previous factors

There are a few other things you should take into account when calculating the EMV of a marketing campaign.

    • Platform specifics need to be accounted for because TikTok will inevitably have a different CPT compared with Facebook which will differ still from LinkedIn, and so on. 
    • Target audience will also impact your EMV because different consumer groups will have different spending patterns. If your target audience is known to make high-value purchases, a lower reach can yield the same returns as a high reach with a low-spending group. As such, it can be useful to perform audience segmentation in order to effectively strategize for different groups. To do this, use Affise’s fully customizable marketing platform for statistical analysis and Business Intelligence.
  • Different media channels that populate the landscape of contemporary marketing necessitate a multipronged approach to calculating EMV. It is worth calculating the value of content on each channel separately. This will help you to direct resources according to a dynamic omnichannel strategy that measures key performance indicators (KPIs) across both browser and mobile-based social media engagement.

Benefits of EMV

There are several advantages to calculating the EMV of your marketing campaigns. Three of the main benefits include helping you to introduce new marketing efforts, developing trust with your existing audience, while also reaching a new audience.

Help introduce new marketing efforts

Calculating EMV can help marketers demonstrate the ROI of their efforts to colleagues from other departments. By providing a tangible dollar value of a given campaign, EMV can be used to evaluate the success of marketing efforts and to make the case for new initiatives.  

Benefits of EMV

Develop trust with your audience

Earned media tends to be much more trusted by consumers than paid advertising. Genuine endorsements from brand advocates are one of the most valuable assets marketers can have. Calculating EMV allows you to quantify this value and apply a data-based approach to your earned media strategy.

Armed with EMV data, you can invest in marketing channels like influencer marketing that can be some of the most effective but difficult to measure the success of. For companies that pursue influencer and partner marketing strategies, Affise Reach can be used to explore new opportunities and increase your EMV.

Reach new audience

Earned media is one of the best means of organically spreading the word about your business. 

Viral impressions can be an especially effective way of reaching people you never could otherwise. This is because the sorting and ranking algorithms that govern who sees what online are prone to creating filter bubbles that make it difficult for brands to break into new markets. Viral content moves through social media rapidly and unpredictably, meaning you can reach whole groups of potential customers you might never have thought to target.

Importance of EMV in Influencer Marketing

These days, influencer marketing is increasingly recognized as an effective way to complement traditional advertising and as a valuable marketing strategy in its own right. In 2021, the industry was estimated to be worth over $13 billion.

With 67% of companies now measuring the ROI of their influencer marketing initiatives, EMV is proving to be one of the most popular metrics in the field.  EMV is important to influencer marketing for two key reasons.

  1. Engagement leads

Brands choose to partner with popular influencers because of the high rates of engagement these people get from their followers. Translating that engagement into leads is at the heart of influencer marketing, which, when it comes to inbound vs outbound leads, is associated more with inbound lead generation strategies. But how do you track whether it’s working?

Sometimes referred to as influencer media value, calculating the EMV of influencer campaigns can be a more precise measure of earned media ROI than click-throughs and conversions alone. That’s because although these can be useful metrics to gauge the success of influencer marketing campaigns, they don’t necessarily correspond to profits.

Good measure of ROI

In a recent survey by Upfluence, 80% of respondents said they thought EMV was a good measure of marketing ROI

Brand awareness and sales

In the world of influencer marketing, the line between earned and owned media can sometimes become blurred. Rather than thinking of the ROI for different media types, it can sometimes help to think in holistic terms of brand awareness and its relationship to sales.

Let’s say you begin a partnership with someone known for their expertise in a field relative to your business. Both parties agree on a fixed amount and type of promotional content for a set rate. For example, you might agree with an influencer that they will mention your brand in every YouTube video they produce within a given time frame and include a banner with a link to any relevant landing pages in that video.

Because YouTube has variable CPT rates that depend on several factors, the EMV you calculate for such a deal would be different for each time your brand is mentioned and your banner is displayed. What’s more, it will continue to rise as the video in question is watched more times.

This is one of the reasons earned media generated through influencer marketing initiatives offer such a good ROI. The right social content can continue to increase brand awareness by delivering impressions for much longer than paid media campaigns ever could.

Brand awareness and sales

As brand awareness grows, translate that growth into revenue by having a well-honed sales funnel in place that uses the best sales enablement app and focuses on creating a world-class customer experience.

Why You Should Calculate EMV

Despite all its benefits, some people still claim that EMV is little more than a vanity metric that marketing and PR teams use to justify their existence but that has little importance to overall business performance. This simply isn’t true.

Calculating EMV has many benefits for a brand. The three biggest of which are that it can elevate and enhance marketing efforts; help you to achieve your business goals; and increase your overall brand awareness.

Let’s look at these in a little more detail:

  1. Elevates Marketing Efforts

Because it helps to quantify the value of marketing campaigns, EMV helps you to track their performance. With EMV data you’re better equipped to know what’s working and direct resources accordingly. A low EMV can also help you to spot if a campaign is failing to meet expectations or to locate areas for improvement.

  1. Helps Achieve Goals

Today, consumers are increasingly wary of paid advertisements and social media reviews play a bigger role than ever in people’s perception of a brand, EMV can help drive growth and boost sales.

Types of content marketers
  1. Increase in Brand Awareness

Instead of plowing more money into advertising pushes, pivoting your marketing strategy to take more account of earned media by measuring EMV can give you access to previously untapped markets and drastically increase your social media reach.


Here at Affise, we believe EMV is one of the most useful metrics for digital marketers to measure. That’s because earned media in the form of organic social media posts is one of the most trusted sources of information and can be far more effective at convincing people of your product’s worth than paid advertising and owned media alone.

No matter what kind of advertising strategy you employ, calculating EMV can elevate your marketing efforts, increasing brand awareness and helping you to achieve your business goals. 

Of course, don’t think of EMV as the be-all and end-all of marketing performance, but rather as an integral component of the modern marketers reporting and measuring toolkit. Use the formula provided here and make any necessary adjustments to your earned media strategy according to the specifics of your business and industry.

So whether your marketing team focuses most on referrals, influencers, SEO content, or customer loyalty, why not include EMV as one of your marketing KPIs to help track and optimize your marketing performance today? 

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Grace Lau - Director of Growth Content, Dialpad

Written by

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content.

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