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Content Marketing VS Native Advertising: Which is best?

With the effectiveness of outbound marketing waning, many are turning to content marketing and native advertising to boost measurable success. According to a Moz survey, 72% of clients have asked their content marketing agencies about native advertising.

What is the difference?

Cost is the main differentiating factor between the two. The same Moz survey shows that leading publishers such as BuzzFeed require $100,000 minimum spend on native advertising, others such as Time require at least $200,000.

Aside from costs, content marketing is non-promotional, owned media, whilst native advertising carries a paid message with a promotional goal. The paid message will be presented according to the format of that particular platform or publisher. For example, promoted tweets are placed in with other tweets, whilst promotional messages shown on BuzzFeed are created in the platform’s playful style often accompanied by gifs.

Company and brand blogs are examples of owned content marketing, which are often spread and distributed on social media to achieve greater reach and impact. This type of content aims to establish companies as authorities in their industry and to help build consumer trust.

What are the benefits?

Content marketing makes use of owned content assets with no costly upfront fees. A non-promotional tone of content is created to build long term confidence in the brand. Content marketing also provides insights to consumers, is more authentic and can benefit from influencer marketing. In some cases marketing to your influencers can provide a greater reach than most top-tier publishers offering native advertising. For example engaging with prominent bloggers in the industry who have a powerful following.

Furthermore, content marketing results directly impact a client’s organic search positioning, whereas native advertising is limited by Google’s guidelines:

–Content Marketing: ROI can be tracked through increased organic rankings as a direct result of earning a diverse, high-quality link portfolio.
–Native Advertising: Reach is limited to the number of paid publisher partnerships, and “sponsored links” are not allowed to pass value.

For native advertising, the main benefit is the broad reach that your content can achieve through taking advantage of the platform’s existing audience. With advertising concealed as native editorial content, it can also combat ‘banner blindness’. Research shows that the average click-through rate (CTR) of display ads is 0.1%. This shows that readers often disregard banner advertising to avoid promotional messages whilst seeking out their preferred content.

What are the challenges?

If you are a small business, content marketing efforts could lack the broad reach you desire as often your brand’s voice could get lost in the crowd. Content marketing requires dedicated content creators, optimisation and therefore a significant long term budget. Content creators can then also work alongside SEO specialists who can actively help to optimise and distribute content in the best way possible.

Although native advertising takes on the same editorial style of the platform, it will always be distinguished as a promotion. This can be labelled in many ways including ‘featured partner’, ‘promoted’, ‘sponsored’ and ‘presented by’. These labels may leave the audience sceptical as content fails to look editorial, appearing just an ad. As previously mentioned, native advertising needs a considerable upfront cost depending on the platform that you wish to feature. You may need to create the content, however it is often best if media entity creates it with your input, which may incur extra charges. Another challenge is that the broad reach of sponsored content does not guarantee engagement.

How to decide?

Whether you decide to go down the content marketing route, the native advertising route or incorporate a bit of both, all depends on your specific marketing goals and advertising budget.

Every business and brand has different requirements which means one strategy may be more beneficial than the other. What they both have in common is that the content produced needs to provide useful information for consumers, enabling them to engage and form connections with the brand or business.

In terms of the benefits to SEO, cultivating your own high quality, unique content through content marketing will always outweigh paid and sponsored posts. However if improving SEO isn’t your aim, and driving brand awareness and campaign views is, native advertising could be the beneficial choice.

Still undecided? Here’s an overview based on marketing goals to help you decide:

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Image source: Moz.com

Which strategy is right for your business?

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