Content Marketing vs Native Advertising – Knowing the difference

Native Advertising and Content Marketing are the most popular buzzwords that everybody is talking about.

In order to better understand how they help our business bottom line, we must first understand what sets them apart.

Native Advertising

Native Advertising is like going for a date. You want to dress to impress and set the right mood. You want to say the right words for things to go in the direction that you want it to be. The goal is very specific and short term. You want to get the date. In advertising terms, it’s targeted. It’s about a paid opportunity where you can place the brand’s ad on platforms that are not owned by you. In others words, you are choosing the right venue that would appeal to your date. Except that it is online.

Now this is when it gets a bit confusing. Native Advertising might start to look like Content Marketing, as both involved creating content for audience. However, here are the main differences that you should always keep in mind:

Rented platforms – When you have to pay a third party to show your ad, that’s Native Advertising. Usual third parties are either social media platforms or websites. Example could be Facebook and Instagram, or CNN and Gizmodo websites. The rule is simple: the more popular the website is, the more you have to pay.

Hidden ad placement – These are ads placed on the website as though they are not ads; it is hidden. It would usually resemble the content on the rented platforms so it does not affect the user experience. Even though it is getting more discrete, the ad could still be identified through the label that would indicate whether it is a branded or sponsored content.

Put briefly, Native Advertising is one of the many ways to score a date. You just have to pay to show your ad in a way that does not affect the experiences of other people who happen to be visiting the same platform. Think about Buzzfeed. They often use funny memes and interesting trivia that are timely to show how brands can work with them.


For instance, they did a quiz in anticipation to the National Breakup Day (“Should You Break Up with Your S.O.?”) with questions related to how couples communicate, particularly, on the use of mobile (“How long does it take for boo thang to text you back?” “How much time do you spend on the phone when you two are hanging out?” “What are you saved as in your S.O. phone?”).


All these seemingly harmless questions that resembled the usual tone in Buzzfeed’s article are building the mood that leads to the brand’s message, which is positioned right at the end of the quiz: “If your boo loves their phone more than they love you, break it off. If you’re the one out there like, screw love, I just like phubbing—hit up Virgin Mobile. They got what you need.”

Content Marketing

Now, you have got your date’s attention. But we all know that it does not necessarily turn into a meaningful relationship. Enter Content Marketing.

It is a mind game. You need to stay focused and create a long-term approach to consistently develop highly relevant and valuable content to ensure that your date could understand you inside out—your passion, your dream, you goals, your strength, your ability to make people laugh. Your date is the targeted audience. And you have to keep them entertained long-term.

What separates Content Marketing from Native Advertising is that the nature of its scope is much broader, and it focuses on distributing content from the media that you owned like your social media accounts, email marketing platform or website. While both digital strategies enhance brand awareness, the former has a particular goal in increasing sales online.

Content Marketing involves careful planning that uses all the content tactics—including Native Advertising—to build audience loyalty and increase organic ranking in search engines. For example, you could include blog articles designed to attract a specified audience, ensure an active stream of social media content, or share stories of clients that fall in love with your brand.

Like a meaningful relationship, Content Marketing has to be nurtured. The result the you want directly relates to how much time you invest into Content Marketing. To summarise, it is a long-term process to build trust with your audience, and a perfect opportunity to show how your brand could help improve the quality of their lives.

Which Works Better?

To decide which digital strategy to adopt, you have to first identify which marketing goals that you want to achieve.

If you have a brand that is relatively unknown or want to reach out to an audience within a short timeframe, Native Advertising may be your best option. But if you are looking at building a strong and loyal brand following, perhaps you could invest in Content Marketing, even though the period of engagement tends to be longer.


Both Native Advertising and Content Marketing could work together to bring in quality leads and enhance brand awareness. The former could draw in potential audience into the your own media and generate short term leads, while the latter would connect them through a series of interactive content that captures their interest and cultivates brand loyalty over a long-term period.

The key is to have a plan, choose a strategy, and execute creatively.


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