Fusing Native Advertising with Content Marketing – Part I


In the new world of content – the world where all organizations get to produce it – jargon is plentiful. Phrases such as corporate journalism, vendor content, brand publishing and custom content are everywhere.

In recent years, many marketing departments have turned to a relatively new type of marketing known as “content marketing” involving the creation of informational email newsletters, blogs, eBooks, videos and podcasts. Their hope is that audiences will be attracted, enticed and educated by such content, thereby increasing their inclination to become customers of the brand. In large part, this strategy has worked.  A recent survey of over 500 marketers, found that 71% planned to increase their content marketing investment this year. 

But where does native advertising play in this mix?

Put simply, native advertising is a sub-set of the catch-all content marketing, meaning the practice of using content to build trust and engagement with would-be customers.

Native advertising can be a promoted tweet on Twitter, suggested post on Facebook or one of those full-page ads between Flipboard pages, but more commonly it is about how brands now work with online publications to reach people.

They've long done so, of course, through display advertisements and various other promotions.

The difference between display ads online – the square MPU units, leaderboards that straddle the top of pages and several other industry-standard formats – and native ads is that the latter are in the flow of editorial content.

Those publications that are pioneering native ads are usually good at making sure the quality of the content is high. They won't just commission content, but work with individual writers or marketers so that it feeds an audience need.

And it seems to be working. According to research from IPG media lab, native ads are viewed for the same amount of time as editorial content and is much more likely to be shared than a banner ad (32% versus 19% of respondents said they would do so).

Though different from the value added strategy of content marketing, native advertising is still a legitimate form of marketing. The main distinction is that content marketers are aiming to build long term trust, consistently providing value for readers without asking for anything in return, while most often the goal the native advertising is to have the reader purchase a product or service before obtaining this valuable content.

Here’s a look at some other key differences:


  • Native advertising: The content may appear to provide value, but that goal is secondary to selling a product or service. Often the advertorial may try to solve a problem that conveniently involves buying the brand’s product or service. However, the content of native advertising generally does not have inherent value without the reader buying a product or service.
  • Content marketing: Here, the goal is to build trust over the long term by providing relevant, useful information. Ultimately, the hope is that content marketing will help generate sales or sales leads but that’s part of a longer sales funnel. Sales are not expected solely as a result of one content marketing piece. Content marketing provides value to a reader that’s independent of them buying a product or service. The content is valuable in itself.


  • Native advertising: Sometimes, native ads take a pushy and salesy tone. Or they may have a faux friendly tone to emulate the writing style of the publication.
  • Content marketing: Effective content marketing takes a knowledgeable, yet authentic tone that doesn’t try to pressure the reader to buy. Instead, it acknowledges the reader’s challenges or pain points and offers actionable tips or solutions. Even if those solutions don’t involve the brand’s product or service (in fact, its better if they don’t because then it feels more genuine and less self-interested), the goal is to engage with the reader and build rapport.


  • Native advertising: Nowadays, readers are wary of being marketed to and many can smell a sales pitch a mile away, so the benefits of native advertising can be fairly limited.
  • Content marketing: Content marketing done well builds trust with readers, helps create shareable content for blogs, social media feeds, email lists, and avoids some of the potential legal issues associated with native advertising because it doesn’t try to mislead.

Now that I’ve outlined some of the differences between native ads and content marketing I would ask you to consider how working with our Content Creation Team will make your brand message resonate and standout amongst the crowd.

In part II of this series next week I will detail Print advertorials along with a memorable and classic example.

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  • Peter McGregor
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