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What is The Difference Between Paid Media and Organic Traffic?

3 min read

Back to Blog

3 min read

What is The Difference Between Paid Media and Organic Traffic?

Author: Kelly Baker
Posted in Search Marketing on 9th July 2018 9:54 am

Getting your brand in front of customers is one of the greatest marketing struggles of our time, but it is worth it. You will often hear figures thrown around like the fact that a customer must see or hear about your brand 20, 40…100 times before they will trust you enough to buy from you. Of course, these numbers widely depend on the what, where and who of your business. But they key point is, if you aren’t seen, you won’t make sales.

Digital and social media have changed the landscape of how we grab customers attention, making it easier than ever to access. But understanding what type of media should be used and when to use it can be confusing. In this article we take a look at the two types of media available and when they are best leveraged by businesses.


Key Differences 

We don’t really need to explain the fact that paid media is media that is paid for and organic is that which is gained without a direct financial investment. However, it is important to further detail a few other key differences between the two terms.

Organic traffic is considered as traffic on your website that is not paid for. Usually this is done through Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), gaining traffic direct from sites such as Google or Bing. Often organic traffic will also be referred to as traffic that is gained through referral by other sites and via social media. The types of content that drive organic traffic are often referred to as earnt or owned media.

Paid media is simply that which you pay for. This may include paid campaigns run through Google AdWords where you bid to have your business advert appear when users search for certain keywords. Equally this refers to paid social media advertising where you can pay to target users based on various interests, location or behaviours.


When to use Paid Media?

Often marketers will sing the praises of organic traffic, after all who doesn’t love free traffic? But paid media has a very real and powerful position in the digital marketing mix.

Take for example a small or start-up business that has no foothold in the current market. Often with these types of businesses speed is key and growing organically can take a very long time. Using paid media can give these businesses a quick and easy way to access audiences previously unimaginable for a start-up. This is equally applicable for any established business launching a new product, service or campaign. Using a paid method will allow you to reach the right audience very quickly.

Paid media is also much more consistent and predictable than organic. This allows businesses to plan exposure rather than relying on luck or ‘going viral’.


When to use Organic Traffic?

The easy answer to when you should be trying to gain organic traffic is…always. Organic traffic should be your goal from the get go, always slowly and steadily increasing your organic reach through consistent audience interaction and providing value through expert content. The ultimate goal for businesses is to have such a massive organic reach that there is a very limited need for paid media.

Using tools such as blogging and vlogging and growing your social media following over time will allow you to consistently build and strengthen your organic reach, which can then be leveraged to the benefit of your business.

Clearly there are some major differences between paid media and organic traffic. They both take an investment, with paid being financial and organic being a big investment of time and expertise. It isn’t really a question of which one you should use, but how you can use them together to create a solid and powerful marketing strategy. By consistently building your organic traffic you will create a consistent base with which you can promote your business. Equally by using paid media you will be able to make a huge impact quickly and gain momentum that can be used to make sales and grow your business.

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