4 Ways Readership Can Guide Your Paid Media Strategy

Allison Horton

August 23rd, 2023

There’s an entire universe of brand engagement that has historically gone unmeasured–readership on the thousands of news articles published every day. At the intersection of earned and paid media, understanding what is actually resonating is key to unlocking success.

Readership (unique visitors to a news article) provides an honest signal of public interest. It’s free from the participation bias, virtue signaling, and algorithm manipulation found on social media, and reflects the content that the public is truly engaging with.

Readership also allows paid and earned media teams to work in tandem with apples-to-apples data. Just as paid-media teams can track how many people clicked on an ad or visited a webpage, their earned media counterparts can report how many people visited an earned article. 

We see some of our customers leverage earned media readership to help drive paid media strategy–here are 4 recent examples.

1. Create content that resonates by analyzing high-performing headlines.

Even within the same topic or campaign, different headline angles can yield vastly different readership. Examining highest-read headlines, topics, angles, keywords, and phrasing can guide messaging for paid campaigns, owned content, ad copy, and potentially save the team money on testing.

2. Identify coverage to boost on social channels.

With Memo, you can quickly find instances where articles with strong message pull-through received low readership. Putting ad dollars behind these articles on social can amplify important messages that didn’t reach a wide audience at first.

3. Allocate scarce ad dollars to the campaigns that need it most.

Because a publication’s “potential reach” is so misleading, readership is critical to understanding where important content isn’t reaching an audience organically and needs ad dollars. It can also help you measure where you’ve had strong results with earned media and don’t need to overspend on paid. (Read more about why reach does not equal readership or the problem with impressions.)

4. Spend where you know your audience is already engaged.

We’ve also seen customers boost articles with already-high readership to very targeted audiences on social to ensure the most resonant content was being placed in front of a key demographic. Spending ad dollars with publications that you know generate high readership for your band or relevant topic is an efficient and cost-effective way to make sure you’re reaching the people that care most. 


Seeing what earned media headlines, topics, angles, keywords, and messaging is attracting readers can be a helpful guide for creating new paid content. Readership can also indicate where to allocate social ad dollars and/or what key messages need an extra boost from your ad budget.

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