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What is digital media? A breakdown of the many different types

by Casey Schmidt  |  February 27, 2020

3 min. read
A woman filmed on camera.

Digital media is so much more than simply a format for digital files. It’s a wide-ranging concept that encompasses a lot more than we think on first notice. Here is a guide to explain what it is and the different types involved.

What is digital media?

Digital media is things such as digital images, videos and music. It is digital content that is represented on mediums that are machine-accessible. Numerous digital devices are able to edit, store and view digital media. It is made up of different kinds of content and technology that require certain tech skills to produce appealing new digital media products.

What are some digital media examples?

Though there are way too many examples to list, here are some popular ones to consider:


Software programs and tools are a good example of digital media. Though often overlooked, software systems are an essential piece to the digital media puzzle, helping construct, create and edit other digital media formats. For example, different software systems may be responsible for creating thousands of other digital media files.

The screen of a Mac laptop.
Different software systems are forms of digital media.


Digital media includes all types of video on a computer or machine system. There are a lot of different video files currently in digital format. In fact, the number is growing rapidly, especially because of sites like YouTube and Instagram that promote video uploads. Also, as mobile devices continue to grow in popularity, accessible phone camera functions produce more videos.


Music and sound files on computers are a form of digital media. This includes all the different formats of audio types, such as MP3s. Audio files are normally compressed and resized from their original size in order to fit the systems for which they are designed.

Headphones on a desk.
Audio stored on a computer it is digital media.


Any image constructed for machine and computer use is considered digital media. This one is often confused because of popularized images that are strictly physical for hundreds of years. When we then see them represented digitally, we’re not sure if they’re considered digital media. In that case, they are in fact digital.

What are the 3 digital media types?

Note that there are different types of digital media, all of which have their own specific features. Here are the three types and a brief description of each:


Owned media is a digital media content type you have published solely as a self-published product using only your resources. It is typically things like articles, blog posts and social media posts. Owned media gives businesses a chance to control their presented values and ideals to their customers. It’s also a great way to boost authoritative perception.

Newspapers on top of a keyboard.
Owned media involves digital content you self-publish.


Earned media is where a company other than yours creates content about your company. However (and this is the most important part), they had no incentive from your end (favors, financial reward, payment) to do so. This type of digital media is usually the most wanted since it costs nothing, takes no time to create and usually looks favorable to third parties.


Paid media, similar to earned media, involves having a separate company create content about your company. Similarly, it saves time because it requires no creation or ideation on your part. However, it’s not without financial obligations. This type of digital media involves buying content or digital space to promote your company.

Remember that even though digital media is essentially all types of media that are found in the digital format, there are a lot of subsets to note. The further you research digital media, the more you’ll understand its small nuances and differing forms.