Native Advertising and Content Marketing: What’s the Difference?

The world of marketing continues to become more and more technical as internet marketing continues its growth over the last two decades.  As our marketing efforts evolve so do the terms we use to define the many parts that must grow along with it.

Enter native advertising and content marketing, while these are often part of the same conversation, they are not at all alike other than the fact that your favourite websites are their medium to get your attention as a reader and consumer.

They can be generally distinguished as such:

Native advertising

It’s a type of online marketing characterized by a streamlined and unobtrusive ad placement and the targeted and valuable information that it provides to a specified demographic.

Native ads are placed seamlessly within a website so that they don’t disrupt the experience of the reader or viewer, like in between paragraphs, and usually do not appear like a traditional ad in that they may not directly advertise but acts as reference to a relevant topic or interesting information to engage with the readers that the business is targeting on someone else’s domain.

Whereas content marketing is based on “owned media” native advertising is based on paying for others’ media space. Form this perspective, it seems more like other, more traditional advertising formats but careful! In this case we are not paying for a “banner-like” space, but to integrate our content in a way that blends into the rest of the articles, videos or other items published on the page.  Native advertising is very similar to a TV commercial. You can tell native ads apart from other banners and the website they are being hosted on by the small label saying something like “ad” or “sponsored content” that appears on each one but these are becoming increasingly hard to detect as online marketers are becoming more creative.

Native advertising is very similar to a TV commercial. You can tell native ads apart from other banners and the website they are being hosted on by the small label saying something like “ad” or “sponsored content” that appears on each one but these are becoming increasingly hard to detect as online marketers are becoming more creative.

Content Marketing

On the other hand, content marketing is a much bigger idea and has a wider and longer-term focused goal. Like native advertising, content marketing provides valuable knowledge to raise brand awareness while targeting a specialized group of potential readers, viewers and customers.

Content Marketing is a marketing strategy that is based on continuously creating and distributing valuable, relevant and attractive content, to reach out to our target audience you the reader or viewer. As with other types of marketing, the ultimate goal is to influence the consumer and to increase business or in most cases sales.  With content marketing you are building trust, credibility and authority through a long-term relationship with the consumer. It has been gaining so much importance in the last years in fact, that it has even become an expression in the digital marketing world to say “content is king.”

To distribute all this content, content marketing relies on owned media: personally, owned places to share your content. The classic example of owned media is a businesses’s own website, blog or social media page which can include written articles, videos, downloads. memes, gifs along with courses and webinars which people do not hesitate in sharing with others

However, content marketing goes further in that its primary focus is to transfer the lead, you, as part of a long-term process with the end result being the conversion to a customer of a product or service.  This type of marketing is not a single piece of content but an ongoing process that integrates into an overall marketing campaign.

Another important distinction is that the media shared through content marketing is owned by the business that is sharing it and can be a valuable asset of theirs, while native ads traditionally run on a “pay to play” basis on platforms that the company does not own.

So why does this matter?

Well understanding the difference between these two aspects of digital marketing allows you the business owner and entrepreneur to capitalize on them and market your products and services better in the global economy.

by Jamie Barrie