What Is Paid Media?

Written by Coursera Staff • Updated on

Learn more about the different types of paid media, why it’s important to a successful marketing strategy, and how to effectively use it to reach your audience.

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Paid media is any content that a business invests in to reach their target audience. Paid media includes pop-ups, sponsored social media posts or blogs, video ads, and pay-per-click (PPC) ads. Social media and search engines are the top places that use paid media, but you can also find it in places like website banners or emails.

By paying other businesses to display your ads and media, you have the opportunity to reach audiences that would be hard to find organically. Paid media typically has two types of pay structures: cost per click (CPC) and cost per mille (CPM).

With CPC media, you pay for the ad space based on the number of times people click on the ad’s link, making it ideal for driving direct traffic to a specific campaign or website. CPM media is where you pay a set rate per thousand impressions or views, regardless of performance—best for brand awareness campaigns.

Types of paid media

Paid media is available in a wide variety of forms, each one tailored to its specific platform. For example, social media platforms typically offer the chance to work with influencers or media personalities to advertise your products or services. Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, and Twitter each have their own advertising platforms where you can create image or video based ads and select the audience you’d like to reach and your budget. 

Search engine paid media includes keyword-based ads that appear when people search for specific phrases on Google or Bing. You can also purchase banner ads that display on websites, emails, and mobile apps.

Why use paid media

Integrating paid media into your business’s marketing strategy can help you tailor a campaign to a specific audience for a predetermined budget. Considering that these efforts cost money, it’s important to be intentional about the types of ads you’re creating, the purpose behind the campaigns, and your target audience.

Successful paid media campaigns involve more than simply spending money on ads. For example, if your target audience tends to participate on social media platforms, but not with video, then video ads would not be a productive use of time and money. Customizing your paid media to the right platforms and audiences can help increase your ROI and conversion rates.

Related terms

Learn more about paid media

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