Earned media, defined as media that someone else shares on your behalf, is more important than ever to marketers, writes Todd Wasserman. Whereas news coverage was once a bonus in gaining exposure, earned media is now a crucial element, as ads that were once considered solely paid media can now be reshared by fans, creating free additional exposure. The top three YouTube videos in 2006 were shared 1.6 million times, a figure that increased to 18 million in 2012, according to U.K. viral video firm Unruly.

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