XX min read

What Is EMV and Why Should Marketers Care?

Published on
April 21, 2024
Earned media value (EMV) is a valuable metric that measures a brand's organic success. Learn more about EMV and how to calculate it in this article.

Building an effective influencer marketing strategy is incredibly complex. There are countless variables to track and account for, an endless stream of trends to keep up with, and an impossible mountain of metrics to climb. With that said, social media strategy begs to be quantified. If you’re not tracking your program performance, how can you optimize your social media efforts and iterate over time? How can you prove that all your hard work really is helping the brand’s bottom line? That’s where earned media value (EMV) comes into play. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about EMV, why it’s a critical KPI for marketers, and how your brand can start tracking it today.

What You’ll Learn:

  • The definition of earned media value
  • The differences between earned media, paid media, and owned media
  • 3 ways brands can benefit from tracking earned media value
  • Strategies for calculating and measuring earned media value

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Earned media value is a performance metric that marketers can use to measure their content results in monetary terms. Measuring performance is one of the biggest challenges with influencer marketing and community programs. Even if brands are tracking KPIs like impressions and engagement rates, the differences across social media platforms and their various content types make it incredibly difficult to design a comprehensive system.  

EMV makes that measurement possible by applying the performance mindset that the big brands have always used with traditional media (like broadcast and linear ads) to the modern digital marketing world of social media and user-generated content (UGC). This allows brands to analyze their overall program performance, compare performance across social media campaigns or platforms, or even drill down into individual influencers’ performance.

With a direct understanding of the way influencer, affiliate, and social media marketing programs drive value, brands are better equipped to allocate spend and optimize creative. Iterating based on measurable data is a much more powerful strategy than testing blindly and hoping for the best. 

Earned Media vs. Paid Media vs. Owned Media

Marketers already have well-established access to a variety of systems and tools that measure the value of their media assets. Unfortunately, those strategies don’t usually translate to earned media (like social media content). Let’s break down the three main types of media assets brands might be dealing with:

  • Owned media: Content that the brand creates and controls, like your social channels, website, blog, etc.
  • Paid media: Content that the brand buys, typically through influencer partnerships and ad placements
  • Earned media: Content that the brand does not create, buy, or control, often in the form of organic mentions in third-party or user-generated content.

The idea that earned media represents monetary value to brands is relatively new, so existing strategies to quantify that value are few and far between. But as the landscape of social media and UGC has exploded, making that earned media exponentially more value, the category has also become consumers’ most trusted resource. 

Without the self-promotional aspect of owned media or the transactional nature of paid media, earned media stands alone as a reliable and credible voice. That means it’s more important than ever for brands to calculate value from that word-of-mouth content and optimize their marketing efforts accordingly.

The Benefits of Earned Media Value

As the paid media category becomes more and more sophisticated, that type of content is slowly overcoming its reputation as transactional and therefore inauthentic. Whitelisting, for example, is the pinnacle of paid media passing as organic content; whitelisted ads are specifically designed to blend in with the organic trends and styles evolving on social media platforms every day.

That’s why even though it’s called “earned media value,” brands need to account for both earned media and paid media while analyzing their EMV. Combining these two types of media assets gives marketers access to the full picture of their user-generated content, regardless of whether it came from a paid partnership, gifting program, or organic interest in the brand.

In that sense, EMV helps brands gain an in-depth, detailed understanding of all of their influencer marketing efforts. These are some of the most important benefits of tracking EMV metrics:

  • Internal reporting: Marketers can use EMV to measure the performance of programs, campaigns, influencers, content types, or individual social media posts. 
  • Internal benchmarking: EMV also enables marketers to compare performance across campaigns, creatives, influencers, content types, or posts.
  • Competitor benchmarking: Beyond internal tracking, EMV makes it possible for brands to compare any aspect of their program performance with other brands in their industry.

EMV benefits like these empower brands to make business decisions based on verified data, achieving sustainable growth and improving their marketing programs over time.

Measuring Earned Media Value

While earned media value is a simple concept, calculating it is actually incredibly difficult. That’s because of all those challenges we mentioned earlier; consistently comparing different types of content across different social media platforms requires careful strategic thinking. Not all content types, impressions, or engagement metrics are created equal, so assigning a fixed value to any of those EMV variables won’t yield results that are accurate or reliable.

Some people have attempted to distill a simple earned media value formula, like impressions x CPM. Even more simplistic formulas, like EMV = impressions, are essentially vanity metrics. But none of these basic approaches to EMV calculations do justice to the nuance of influencer marketing strategy.

One problem is that TikTok and Instagram don’t track or report the total number of impressions in the same way. Next, not all content types register impressions at all; others prioritize specific engagement data like shares, comments, and likes. And even more importantly, the value of each impression or engagement depends a lot on who it’s coming from.

That’s why Archive developed a proprietary machine learning algorithm to calculate EMV more accurately. Our system arrives at a precise dollar value by dynamically accounting for key factors, including:


This category includes impressions, likes, comments, and shares, aggregating all the different kinds of interactions that different types of content can earn across different platforms. We weight each type of engagement differently — for example, comments are more valuable than impressions — and our algorithms refresh engagement analytics constantly, even long after the piece of content was originally published.

Content Type

Instagram reels and TikToks are both videos, but because they aren’t processed or measured the same way by their respective platforms, they can’t be weighted in the same way when it comes to calculating EMV. Even within a single platform, value weighting must be adaptable; we assume that Instagram reels are more valuable than Instagram stories because they typically take more time and effort to produce, and they last more than 24 hours.

Audience Size

The value of any given engagement has everything to do with the person it’s coming from. If Paul, the CEO of Archive, double tapped on a reel about the latest in-shower soap caddy from Kitsch, that would represent a certain EMV dollar amount. But it wouldn’t represent anywhere near the same dollar amount if, say, Kim Kardashian liked the same reel. That’s why our algorithm uses historical performance data and audience size to weight each data point accordingly.

Measure EMV Automatically with Archive

EMV can help you build brand awareness, improve your marketing strategy, and grow the return on investment from your content initiatives. But accurately tracking EMV metrics is a tall order if you have to build your own algorithm and develop earned media value calculations from scratch. With Archive already tracking all your UGC for you, it’s easy to see the EMV your content is driving at a glance. Our proprietary machine learning algorithm does its work in the background to deliver you a dashboard of beautiful EMV reports that are simple to understand and easy to filter for customized results.

Not using Archive yet? Our all-in-one influencer marketing platform automatically captures all the UGC your brand is tagged in. With cutting-edge social listening features, 1-click reports, built-in usage rights management, and so much more, Archive is what your influencer team needs to drive results right away. Want more? Improve your website conversion rate with Shoppable UGC Feeds, a tool that puts your best short-form video front and center. And get real-time customer insights from ArchiveGPT, the AI that knows your brand, gets your audience, and has already watched all your content. Ready to dive in? Get started with a free trial of Archive today.

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