In Online Marketing the terms native advertising and content marketing often get interchanged. But they describe different marketing approaches. To erase established uncertainties, let’s start with a definition by outlining some of the key differences.

In 2016 we posted an article to shed light on the distinction between both strategies.  But as there are still weak points – here´s an updated version.

What is Content Marketing?

As a strategic marketing technique content marketing creates informative, consistent and emotional content with a high value for customers. Its primary focus neglects big advertising claims but is rather an ongoing process of storytelling. The main goal is to provide the right valuable information to the right targeted audience at the right time. Following this game, it acknowledges the customer´s pain points. This is in order to change or enhance their behavior.

Valuable content is an approach designed to built long-term customer relationships and can help brands increase awareness, change perception, market positioning, strengthen trust and create a sustainable interaction with users. A self-controlled targeting and placing without third-party supplier allows a clearly defined and analyzed target group. Accordig to a study the top three metrics of interest are click-throughs (83%), social shares (70%) and awareness (61%). In total marketers spend about one third of their marketing budget on content marketing. As a marketing strategy, this section covers an early part of the sales funnel, as well as it helps to increase loyalty of clients and aquires new audiences steadily.

What is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is an online marketing form which distributes branded content and enables a desired discovery by the consumer. By doing so it allows marketers to promote their content within an editorial feed. Native Advertising operates as connector between advertisers and publishers. Whereas advertisers pay for getting their ads and content shown in terms of increased visibility, publishers monetize their websites. Almost half of publishers already offer native advertising, while 41% are likely or most likely to add it to their advertising option. According to Marketing Magazine Bandt native advertising increased during the past five years by 74% and is tripling since 2015. eMarketer goes one step further and forecasts that native advertising will represent up to 50% of content marketings budget.

Characterized by a special format and placement, native ads are inherently non-disruptive and blend into the surroundings on platforms or websites. To appear as transparent and trustworthy as possible and to differ from conventional editorial content, ads are directly labeled as ‘sponsored’ or ‘ad’. As a result, consumers consciously choose to engage with the ads and are more open to the advertising message. This paid media placement offers highly targeted, relevant and valuable to a specific audience without being a traditional advertisement that directly promotes a company´s service or product.


in this image you can see 4 differences between native advertising and content marketing

But why are many people even in the marketing industry confused by the differences?

Both approaches content marketing and native advertising provide highly relevant information in order to offer value and to claim the attention of a defined target group. Creating engaging content is only half the battle: to make it work, content needs visibility.

Speaking in particular of a content marketing strategy, native advertising is the perfect format for generating greater reach for branded content from owned, earned and paid media. Using native advertising, high-quality content can be unobtrusively integrated on news sites, themed portals, blogs etc. to drive users to the content.

In combination with user data, the placement of content recommendations can be even adjusted to users’ individual interests. This way, the relevance of the content is increased additionally and readers’ interaction with your content is enhanced. Native advertising not only helps brands address specific audiences directly. It also  measures the relevance and performance of content as well as it optimizes all related KPIs. Therefore, paid Content Distribution is crucial, since it ensures that every content piece reaches its target group.

Two strategies have two different goals and methods

Even though both terms work hand-in-hand, it is essential to distinguish between their different methods and particular goals. As pointed out, both native advertising and content marketing are content marketing strategies. If used in tandem, a fertile symbiosis allows marketers to spread. Also it automates their content more efficiant than in the past years and to capitalize better. Recent surveys conducted by Content Marketing Institute have shown that in 2017 approximately 23% of a company´s total marketing budget is spent on content marketing. Often native advertising is integrated into the approach of content marketing. Thereforeit  is likely to draw upton content marketing´s budget. Forecasts presume that US native ad spend will grow 36.2% this year to reach $22.09 billion.

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