POEM is an acronym for Paid, Owned and Earned Media and refers to the different means for a brand to gain visibility on the Internet and beyond.
POEM expression seems to have emerged in 2009 on a US blog and then to have been popularized by Forrester Research. POEM analysis can be restricted to digital marketing or to be global.
Paid media is all ad placements which the brand advertiser has bought on digital or traditionnal media.
Owned media refers to all points of contacts and exposures owned an controlled by the brand. In digital context the more important element of own media is often the brand website or a Facebook account. Twitter accounts, brand blogs and newsletters are also kinds of owned media.
In a larger perspective, retail stores, point of sale advertising and brochures can be also be considered as owned media.
Earned media is free exposure gained from customer comments and recommandations. It is essentially social media content, consumer reviews, viral video views, etc. Press coverage may also be considered as earned media.
Unquestionably, the nicest recent case of earned media is Red Bull Stratos experiment.
From outside, lines are sometimes blurred between paid and earned media. A sponsored post on a blog is paid media, but a spontaneous one is earned. Likewise, a tweet can be promoted or spontaneous.
An illustration of blurring lines (image credit Optify "The future of digital marketing services"):
An illustration focused on online media (Optify):
POEM according to Forrester Research:
A global vision of POEM mixing online and offline media (Image credit Enterprise Marketing Management IBM whitepaper):
See also POEM for B2B context.