How to Measure Earned Media Value & Why It’s Important

You might tell people that your grandma’s pumpkin pie is the best out there, but they may be disinclined to believe you—let’s face it, everyone’s grandma’s pumpkin pie is the best, after all. However, if your best friend—who’s eaten it before—claims it’s also their favorite pumpkin pie, then partygoers will be more likely to take a slice. Do you see where we’re going with this analogy?

This particular situation occurs because you’re biased: of course, you think your pumpkin pie is the best because of your cherished memories surrounding it. Your opinion is not as trustworthy as a third party, in this case, your best friend. But when your best friend validates your belief, that pumpkin pie starts looking like a more valuable commodity.  

That’s Earned Media Value (EMV) in a nutshell. Your organic social content can only achieve so much. At the end of the day, you’re biased about your product because you made it. Of course, you think it’s excellent! That’s why you need third-party content that highlights why your product is so great; we call this earned media content. 

While that all makes logical sense, how do you measure the cost of your earned media without understanding its value? You can’t. But don’t worry, that’s where we come in. We’ve put together a quick guide to earned media value, giving you all the tools you need to succeed. 

What Is Earned Media Value?

To be clear, you can’t calculate your earned media value with actual earned media. So let’s start there. Content is classified as earned media any time your company is mentioned online—as long as it doesn’t come from you. Of course, you will publish your own content online, but it’s crucial to understand that this would be classified as “owned” media. 

Earned media includes reviews, social media content, press, and even word-of-mouth recommendations about your brand. It’s impossible to know how much this helps your company grow unless you measure it. The measuring of earned media, putting a monetary value on it, is Earned Media Value (EMV). 

EMV is best used to understand how much business (or other relevant KPI metrics) third-party content brings in for your social media strategy. Any time someone creates content that mentions your brand, EMV metric helps you track the value of that content.  

The benefits of implementing EMV in your content creation 

Think of earned media content as new-age word-of-mouth marketing. There’s a reason influencer and creator marketing campaigns are now a standard line-item for most Marketing Managers. People trust other people’s opinions. It’s the ultimate social proof. We’re more inclined to copy the actions of others than forge our own path. 

It comes down to credibility, one of the major benefits of earned media. Recommendations increase your reliability, prompting new customers to trust you more, giving your product or service a try. When you work toward implementing and measuring Earned Media Value, you’ll see additional benefits. These include:

  • Increased brand footprint: People are more likely to engage with a post from a third-party source than with your company directly. Consumers can see straight through a paid-for piece of content, they’re hungry for authenticity and honest feedback.  
  • Builds stability against algorithm changes: Social media platforms change algorithms all the time, so it’s good to vary content between paid, owned, and earned media to stay relevant. A comprehensive marketing strategy features all three, feeding off of each other for a 360-degree approach that delivers maximum impact.  
  • Creates targets and trackability: Earned media value assigns a dollar amount to engagement. It becomes a metric you can track, truly understanding your company’s engagement across various platforms. This information is crucial when you’re making budget decisions, you need to have clear line of sight. 

How to measure earned media value 

When you want to understand the impact of efforts like employee advocacy, you need to measure your earned media value. That way, you can assess whether the resources you’re allocating correlate to the increased sales you’re after. Any marketing spend for your business needs to have a clear set of objectives and performance metrics, giving you the tools you need to determine ROI. 

While it is possible to track earned media value, there is no set rule like there are with other performance measures like views or conversions. Let’s unpack a few options. That way, you can determine the best fit for your company.  

The earned media value formulas 

Option 1: EMV = impressions x CPM

The most common method for measuring earned media value is the total number of impressions x CPM.  To tackle this equation, you take the total number of impressions you’ve acquired from earned media content and multiply it by your standard cost per 1000 impressions (CPM). 


  •  If you already do a lot of paid advertising, this should be fairly straightforward. CPM is usually a metric you’d acquire in an ad campaign


  • If you only use organic social content, you will need to estimate a dollar amount that equates to your impressions. 


This might not be the most accurate equation (especially if you’re guessing your CPM). You can include an adjustment factor in your formula. The adjustment factor is the number that you use to measure the success of your social media campaign. This number will change from project to project. One adjustment factor might be the number of people who actually engaged with the post. If that were 500, then you’d multiply by 500 as well. 

Your new equation would be: EMV = Impressions x CPM x Adjustment Factor 

This is the most common way to measure EMV, but it’s not the only way. If this doesn’t work for your company, take a look at Option 2. 

Option 2: CPM vs. Sales

If your company decides it’d prefer to measure success based on sales, you can adjust the earned media value to fit your needs. Instead of measuring CPM, take the number of impressions based on third-party socials and compare them with your sales figures. You should be able to cross-reference how much a certain product (or group of products) sold during a specific period. With this data on hand, you could draw calculated assumptions about your earned media performance. 


  • If you’re trying to determine what to include in your marketing mix, this will give you a better understanding of how earned media content affects conversion. That way, you can decide if it’s a priority channel or not. 


  • It’s difficult to get this 100% accurate. You will always have to consider other marketing factors that could have contributed to increased conversions during this time period. 

This formula will look vastly different depending on your products and strategy but can be a helpful tool for looking at earned media value with a different lens. 


As with any marketing effort, your objectives dictate your performance metrics. It may make sense to look at EMV with both formulas. That way, you can get an understanding of how it affected your reach or general brand awareness. Once this is complete, you can cross-reference your sales, drawing a correlation between earned media events. This could give you a more holistic picture of the earned media impact.

When to apply the formula 

No matter which formula you choose, you’ll need to be able to identify third-party content. Implement social listening tools (also referred to as social media monitoring tools) that can alert you when your brand is talked about online. This will ensure that you secure the correct engagement numbers when applying the formula. Better yet, you can use this information to gauge your brand sentiment. It’s an excellent way to keep an ear to the ground, and understand what your customers are saying about your products or services. 

When applying the earned media, set the time frame of what you’re measuring. This could be monthly or quarterly. Weekly is probably too frequent. Once you have determined your time period, use those parameters to calculate the value of your employee advocacy posts.

How to understand the results 

Again, your results need to link to your objectives. As a general rule of thumb, the higher your earned media value, the more valuable your earned media is. The EMV is an estimated number of how much you’ve gained from your earned media efforts. While this is great to see, it can be hard to know what to do with this information. What actions should you take after you see your results? 

Trying to understand any metric on your own is complex. It helps to use software tools that define actionable changes you can make based on your earned media value results. Utilize a metrics dashboard where you can personalize results according to your third-party channels. This will help you understand what worked so you can repeat the success going forward. Moreover, it will identify areas of improvement, giving you the insights you need to drive a bigger impact. 

Risks of relying too much on earned media value

While earned media value is a helpful tool, it can also be a vanity metric. That means that sometimes, your engagement won’t correctly correlate with the cost of your advertising. Yes, your impressions and engagement might be through the roof, but your conversions are rock bottom. That means people might like the content, but they’re not buying your product.  

Ultimately, the fuzzy math in calculating earned media value can give you an incorrect view of the success of your content. That’s why you need it in tandem with other business intelligence tools to gain a fully-rounded understanding of what’s working in your marketing strategy. Your strategy needs to service the full sales funnel, so take your time to review all the relevant metrics at each level. You don’t want to over-deliver on reach but drop the ball on intent.

Top tip: Familiarize yourself with the sales funnel and have this in mind when you’re reviewing performance. It makes sense to allocate metrics to different tiers. That way, you can understand their value in the big picture. 

Get a jumpstart on earned media with Clearview Social 

If you’re looking to gain more clarity on your earned media value, utilize the employee advocacy and social media tools from the experts at Clearview Social. Our employee advocacy software includes a robust, customizable analytics dashboard about your posts and third-party posts, so you can gain actionable insights into what’s working with your marketing strategy and what needs to change. 

Maybe you’re not ready to start measuring earned media value because you don’t have any earned media yet. One of the best ways to create earned media content is through employee advocacy. Our employee advocacy tools, like one-click email sharing and queue builders, make it easy for your team to share company content in seconds. Start building your earned media immediately through the biggest tool in your company’s toolbox: your employees. 

If you’re ready to harness the ⚡power⚡ of earned media in your social media strategy, Get A Free Demo with Clearview Social today.