Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing: What’s the Difference?
Advertising continues to be a major channel through which companies attract new customers. But in recent years the industry has come a long way from flyers and newspaper classifieds.
In the past, advertising was strictly limited to print, radio, and television. With the rise of internet advertising, we now have more channels than ever before, from social media posts to display ads to email campaigns.
You may have heard the terms native advertising and content marketing in reference to contemporary advertising. The two differ in several ways, including objective and format, and below we will break down their main differences.
The Difference Between Native Advertising and Content Marketing
Definition: With Native Advertising, the ad (video, image, or piece of text) matches the form and function of the platform on which it is featured. If you have a video of the new product that you want to advertise, you may feature it as a sponsored video on a page of other videos, such as Youtube.
Native advertising has become more popular in recent years due to the rise of browser ad blockers. According to Hubspot, Adblock Plus, the world’s most popular ad blocking extension, has been downloaded over 500 million times. In the same report, 68% of respondents said they did not mind ads, as long as they were not annoying.
While ad blockers continue to block out pop-ups and banner ads, native ads are not usually affected, which helps explains how they have come to be so common.
Native Ads on Twitter: Trending Topics, Promoted Tweets
Twitter has designed ads to blend with the aesthetic of its website, and places them in locations that users tend to look at the most, like the trending topics section and even amongst certain tweets in users feed.
Below is an example of the film The Alienist advertising on Twitter using a unique hashtag and a simple, one line explanation.
Native Ads on YouTube: Commercials and Suggested Videos
Although YouTube started out as ad-free, the platform has since added short commercials ranging from a few seconds to unskippable ads to almost every video. Ads can feature in between two auto-playing videos, or sometimes in the middle of a long video.
As a marketer with an ad on YouTube, you can also promote it to show up in the “Up Next” slot in the Autoplay section.
Both content marketing and native advertising focus on reaching customers and raising awareness, but content marketing is a more long-term advertising tactic that aims to convert potential customers.
Similar to native advertising, content marketing can also take shape in the form of videos, images, and text, however, it instead features on the website or properties owned by the business sharing the content. In native advertising, the content is placed on a platform that usually involves a “pay-to-play” system.
Content marketing gives a website more (for lack of a better word) content, which helps it rank higher on various search engines, and creates more value for your clients and customers in the form of guides, tutorials, tips, resources, and more.
Content Marketing in The New York Times: Virtual Reality Journalism
Content is as much about the medium as it is about the topic. In the case of The New York Times, content typically means a lengthy article with attractive photos. But when VR began to take off in 2015, NYT saw it as an opportunity to reformat their story as an immersive virtual experience.
Content Marketing on the Disney Parks Blog
Separate from Disney’s other ventures (such as films and video games), the official Disney parks have their own blog website that features looks behind-the-scenes, guides, and event updates. Instead of promoting each ride with discrete ads, Disney explores different ways to get people excited to visit, like a guide to the healthy products at Disney Springs, tips on what to pack for your trip, and highlights from an international festival.
Native Advertising or Content Marketing – Which one is best for your business?
Business leaders face the important question: between native advertising and content marketing, which one has a higher ROI and in which should the company invest?
The answer: both benefit your ROI, but for different reasons. Weighing their separate advantages can help inform your decision on which is best for your company.
Advantages of Native Advertising
Native ads are best for new brands or ones that aim to heighten awareness of their brand.
Native ads perform well on social media and search engines. As the algorithms for social feeds and results pages evolve to focus on real and organic content from your network, native ads are the best way to stand out from the competition.
Finally, native ads are available in multiple formats- desktop, mobile, and tablet (soon we may see voice ads!). With the right tools, you can prepare an ad that displays and resizes consistently across websites and devices, while still matching the website’s aesthetic.
Advantages of Content Marketing
Great content can boost your Search Engine Optimization (SEO). If you format your pages according to best practices, research and use the right keywords your content will rank higher than your competitors. Search engines tend to favor blogs and pages that have a clear topic while avoiding keyword stuffing.
Content marketing is also better at generating authentic traffic and conversions. When brands focus on valuable content (and not just some promotional item), customers become more receptive.
Strong content can also make a brand seem more credible and authoritative. A law firm that provides guides on how to seek help is more likely to be perceived as trustworthy.
Additional Help and Resources
Native advertising and content marketing cover a wide gamut of topics, from programmatic ads to email marketing. It’s normal to have a few questions. Arcalea is a search marketing agency that specializes in digital strategy, including native advertising and content marketing tactics. If you want to learn more about how advertising or content marketing can benefit your business, reach out to us today.
Arcalea combines marketing professionals and data analysis experts into a single team. We love reading the data, the challenge of "how can we?" and of continuously striving to raise our teammates and client partners to be the best they can be.