Native advertising vs. content marketing: what’s the difference? When do you use which? And how do you use each effectively? Here we’ll cover what each of these promotional methods is, which best practices apply to each, and which common mistakes to avoid. We’ll also explain what each of these marketing methods can do for your promotional campaigns and when you should use native advertising vs. content marketing.
Content marketing promotes your brand, product or service by publishing digital content. Examples of content types used for this purpose include:
Content used for content marketing normally resides on your website or social media profile. An exception is guest blogging, where a partner site hosts your content.
Because content is normally hosted on properties you own, you have a large degree of control over how it is displayed and viewed. You also don’t have to pay to host content the way you would pay for advertising space. Expenses are limited to other areas such as the cost of producing and managing content.
Content marketing is typically used for a number of purposes:
These varied uses make content marketing one of today’s most important digital promotional tools.
To be effective, content marketing should follow some best practices:
Good content marketing should also avoid some common mistakes. In particular:
Following these guidelines will help your content generate SEO results, drive traffic and promote conversions.
Native advertising uses paid ads or content which resemble content on the publishing platforms they inhabit. For example, if you’re on the home page of a news site, some links on the page may go to actual news articles, while others may take you to paid ads or promotional content. Another example would be if you’re looking at a YouTube video and the sidebar displays an ad for a video on top of a list of recommended videos.
As these examples illustrate, native advertising blends into its platform by mimicking the look, feel and function of other content from the same publisher. Common types of native advertising include:
Unlike content marketing, native advertising typically uses platforms your brand does not own. This gives you less control over how your ads are displayed. It also means you have to pay for advertising space.
Native advertising can be used as a paid method to promote content from your content marketing campaigns. It can also be used to distribute ads that drive traffic, clicks to landing pages or sales.
Many of the best practices for content marketing also apply to native advertising. You should track measurable goals, use market research, and provide value that appeals to your target audience. In addition, effective native advertising follows some of its own distinctive best practices:
Good native advertising must also avoid some common pitfalls:
Avoid these mistakes to ensure the success of your native advertising campaigns.
Content marketing and native advertising are best viewed as part of a spectrum rather than opposing techniques. Content marketing typically resides on your website or social media profiles you control. Native advertising typically involves working with other publishers who give you varying degrees of control. When you pay for a publisher to promote branded content to the top of results or recommendations, you have some limited control over your visibility. With other types of native advertising, whether or not your content gets displayed depends more on audience behaviors which you don’t control.
These varying degrees of control correspond to varying costs and results. Content marketing does not incur paid advertising costs, but shifts your expenses towards content production and management. A tradeoff for this reduced cost is that content marketing can take a longer, more persistent campaign to deliver results. On the other hand, native advertising can allow you to reach a larger audience more quickly but requires a larger investment in paid advertising fees.
These considerations mean that it’s not really a matter of native advertising vs. content marketing, but it’s more a question of when to use which. Use content marketing to:
Use native advertising to:
These two tactics can also support each other. You can use native advertising to drive audiences to content from your content marketing campaigns. In this way, content marketing and native advertising can be complementary.
Both content marketing and native advertising can play an important role in a complete digital marketing strategy. An experienced marketing agency can help you develop a comprehensive strategy that makes the most of both methods and other promotional tools. SimpleTiger specializes in helping B2B SaaS businesses develop effective SEO and content marketing strategies that drive traffic and conversions. Take a few minutes to fill out our online form and schedule a discovery call with our team to discuss how we can help your website get better marketing results.
Caitlin is Head of Content at SimpleTiger, responsible for managing the content team and overseeing process creation and innovation on the content team.
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