As the effects of outbound marketing continue to diminish, more and more marketers consider inbound alternatives, specifically content marketing and native advertising.
Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience with the objective of driving profitable customer action.
The whole purpose of content marketing is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content.
Native advertising, on the other hand, is paying someone else to distribute your content. It isn’t a new concept. It has existed in the form of newspaper ads in the past.
A successful native advertising strategy will take content marketing into consideration, and when paired, content marketing and native advertising work hand in hand to build audiences across multiple channels.
The bottom line is, they are not the same thing nor do they share a similar perspective or approach.
The image above is a good example of a native advert. The circled part of the image indicates that the image has not been vetted or endorsed by BuzzFeed’s editorial staff. What this means is that HarperCollins paid to get their logo on that content.
Key differences between content marketing and native advertising
Purpose: In native advertising, content will appear to provide value but ultimately, that is the secondary goal. Selling the brand and product come first so there is the tendency for the content not providing enough value to people.
Content marketing on the other hand is all about building long term trust with your audience by creating valuable content in the hope that it will lead to sales and leads. Sales are not the sole expected result but also giving value to people is a key pillar in effective content marketing.
Tone: Native adverts have a very direct and pushy tone to its readers to buy products. Content marketing takes a calculated approach by not pressuring the reader to buy. Instead it more or less acknowledges the readers problems and tries to provide solutions and tips. The goal really is to engage with people.
Many businesses today still rely on content marketing and native advertising to gain visibility for their brand. In fact, 70% of people would rather learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertising.
In that regard, is either content marketing or native advertising a guaranteed way to boost brand awareness? But also, which one offers more value?
How many Content marketing agencies operate is to produce campaigns for brands and then pitch these to multiple publishers for coverage. Each time a publisher writes about a campaign, it will usually link back to the company as the source.
These links increase a company’s organic search rankings, direct traffic to the company’s website, and drive user engagement for the brand via social media.
Whereas content marketing usually tries to secure dozens of media pickups, native advertising promotes content by paying to partner with a single publisher.
Native advertising offers a guaranteed placement with a top publisher that might have monthly unique visitors in the millions.
In the early days of content marketing, Google began penalizing brands for thin content pages and low-value link schemes, the industry scrambled to produce higher-quality content.
Thus, like some publishers, content marketing agencies started to produce more articles and infographics than other content formats.
Successful? content marketing campaigns can be judged by the number of leads high-quality links and total social media shares generated by each campaign.
According to this report, 70% of content marketing agencies can charge as high as $100,000. The cost of course varying based on the size of the project at hand. For example the cost of releasing your content to the press will be considerably more expensive than creating an infographic.
The cost of a native advertising campaign was gathered from a report. At first glance, the minimum investment to partner on a native advertising is in many ways expensive for most brands.
For example, to teaming up with TIME on a native advertising campaign, can cost as much as of $200,000.
Clearly, native advertising is expensive. But what’s do you get out of it?
We can examine two companies that ran the two campaigns, Buzzfeed and Fractil.
Buzzfeed carried native advertising campaigns while Fractile carried out content marketing campaigns.
Overall, Fractl’s content marketing campaigns had more shares than BuzzFeed’s native advertising. Looking at Fractl’s 11 campaigns for client Movoto resulted in, on average, 146 pickups and 17,934 social shares. BuzzFeed’s 13 campaigns for Intel resulted in one pickup on average and 12,481 social shares.
Sponsored content is more in line with the goals of content marketing which is to gain readership and generate increased brand awareness whereas native ads emphasize user engagement with the goal of selling products, services and improving return on ad spend.
A stumbling block of native advertising is that Google considers it to be paid links, which prevents campaigns from improving the company’s search engine rankings.
With a smaller reach, is native advertising ever worth the cost? For some businesses with large budgets, the price is worth it if it means positioning their brand with a high-authority publisher and the right target audience.
Ultimately, native advertising has been proven effective in drawing higher click rates than other outbound marketing methods, so as a replacement for those, it could make sense.
Despite fundamental differences, content marketing is essential to native advertising in that without lead social sharing sites, native advertising would not be nearly as rewarding.
In many ways content marketing and content sponsorship have paved the way for reaping the rewards of native advertising, just as competitive native advertising has made content marketing more profitable as well.
These data-driven findings suggest how companies might get more value with content marketing especially if they’re looking for a wide reach with different publishers and audiences.
However, for those mainly interested in guaranteed placement with a big-name publisher, native advertising might be the way to go.
The relationship is mutually beneficial, and understanding definitive distinctions can help in developing high level strategies for using content marketing to your native advertising advantage.
Do you have any more advantages or disadvantages between content marketing and native advertising? Please share in the comments below.
Feature Image: FreeDigitalPhotos.net
In Post Images: Moz.com, Wordstream.com, hbr.org