The alphabet soup of internet marketing

As the face of business gets younger and younger the vernacular seems to change every other day. But you should know that those aren’t teenage colloquialisms you’re hearing and it’s not excessive geek speak, either. And some of it you need to know.

Internet marketing has really stirred the alphabet soup of the business world over the last two decades and the two terms that get confused the most when the bowl is near empty are native advertising and content marketing. While often part of the same conversation, they are not at all alike aside from the fact that your favourite websites are their medium.

They can be generally distinguished as such:

  • Native advertising is singular, specific, and targeted.
  • Content marketing is a general term in advertising used to talk about content distribution.

If you function better on specifics, then native advertising looks like this:

You’ve finished reading an engaging article on your smartphone and you scroll down to find related media to feed your thirst for knowledge only to see a “sponsored” advertisement featuring an improbably large marine mammal that has purportedly “stunned scientists” in your local area.  It’s positioned tactfully so as to not act as an impediment to your normal scrolling speed which is often catalogued to determine the visitor’s overall engagement with a particular webpage. But let’s be honest. Some of us click. I’ll admit I’ve hit the ‘next’ button on 26 well-known pictures of 20th century historical figures just to see one picture of Amelia Earhart I thought I had never seen before.

So, what I’m saying is it works. It’s a part of a stream of content marketing known as “content discovery” and it’s a $12 billion USD and growing industry controlled by three platform giants: Taboola, Outbrain, and Yahoo Gemini. A click is reportedly worth between $0.03 and $0.06 USD – and ad blockers don’t keep native advertisements at bay.

By David MacDonald