What is the difference between content marketing and native advertising?

Not sure of the difference between content marketing (a.k.a. branded content) and native advertising? Here’s a super simple answer.

Don’t worry! As experts in both areas, we’re here to break it down for you!

Yes and no. Digital advertising and content marketing are both types of content created to inform the reader about a brand or product. They’re both designed to be consumed in a way that differs from traditional advertising. And they’re both created by professional content creators, such as writers, photographers, and illustrators.

The major point of difference is where you find them.

For example, if you’re reading a blog or a magazine and then turn a page and find you’re now reading about a product or service – it’s probably native advertising.

If the content you’re consuming is on a brand’s website or social media feed – then it’s content marketing.

Make sense?

Let’s dig a little deeper.

Native advertising is paid advertising that’s made to look like normal, editorial content.

You can find it anywhere you’d expect to see traditional adverts, and it’s created like this:

  1. A women’s clothing brand (let’s call them WAVE) wants to reach a popular blogger’s audience (we’ll call her Betty).
  2. WAVE approach Betty for a native collaboration. They tell her about their current campaign, and the message they want to share with her audience.
  3. WAVE and Betty discuss, and make a deal.
  4. Betty creates, publishes and promotes a piece of content to her audience that includes WAVE’s message. It’s in her usual editorial style and could be anything from ‘3 Ways to Style a Little Black Dress’ to ‘Tips & Tricks for Storing Heirloom Clothing’, but crucially it focuses on WAVE’s products.

When native advertising is done well it can be very difficult for a reader to even realise they’re looking at an advert.

This is what can make it so successful.

Content marketing is content that brands create either in-house or by outsourcing to content marketing professionals (such as ourselves). It’s shared on their own platforms, with their own audiences.

Continuing the example above, let’s say WAVE wants to develop a solid content base for their website or social channels. They could create this themselves, or reach out to a specialised content marketing agency like us to create it for them.

If engaging us, we would:

  1. discuss with WAVE and work out their ‘why’ (i.e. Why do they need content, and what do they want it to do? – For WAVE, this could be growing their SEO/brand awareness or informing their customers of new campaigns or products)
  2. create a content strategy that meets this objective and then build a pipeline of content that effectively serves that strategy.

Just as a side note, we only create content that has a clear strategy behind it. Branded content marketing without a strategy is basically just noise. And we don’t do noise.

Some of the content created following this approach may be similar to those made by Betty with her native advertising. However, with content marketing they would be created by WAVE, for WAVE and aimed at WAVE’s customers.

Do you follow?

Both, if possible. But make sure they work with each other.

Native advertising is a great way to reach a new and already established audience. As long as the audiences are aligned, it can return an incredible ROI.

For example, if you’re a brand that creates products for Aussie mums and you secure native advertising on a popular mum blogger’s site, this campaign has the potential to return outstanding results.

Content marketing can take longer to deliver returns, especially if your ‘why’ is all about SEO. However, when it does deliver, the results will be amazing. This is because effective content marketing is all about consistent, scalable, long-term gains.

And remember, the first step to effective content marketing is to create a strong content strategy. Why? Because good strategy is one of the reasons content marketing works.

A clear strategy will guide all your content marketing decisions. After you’ve laid that groundwork, your content will:

  • provide the information your audience is looking for
  • move you up Google’s page rankings, courtesy of your awesome SEO content
  • entertain and connect with your customers
  • make your social feeds and website full and professional
  • and so much more.

Once you have a strong foundation of content, thanks to an effective content marketing campaign, you can move onto your native advertising journey with a clearer ‘why’ in mind.

We’re happy to advise on both! Just get in touch.

Want to know more?