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Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing

Wilson Lau

Sr. SEO Marketing Manager @ AdRoll

Native advertising and content marketing are valuable marketing strategies with similar goals: increased traffic, engagement, and sales. However, whereas native advertising is a straightforward, specific approach to distributing content, content marketing encompasses a much larger strategy. Learn more about the benefits of native advertising vs. content marketing, including when to use each to grow your business and how they can work best together. 

What Is Native Advertising?

Native advertising is the process of utilizing advertisements that look and act like the websites or apps where they are placed. Essentially, these ads “blend in” to the website content, so they look less like advertisements and more like extensions of the content a user chose to engage with. This soft-sell approach to advertising has vast benefits for marketers. 

Benefits of Native Advertising

Because native advertising uses ads that “blend in” to the platform they’re on, users are more likely to click on the ad to learn more because they trust the website they’re visiting. In fact, recent studies show that native ads receive a 5-10x higher CTR (click-through rate) than traditional ads. 

This is likely because users find native ads 62% easier to understand than other types of display ads and 31% easier to understand than social ads. Additionally, ad blockers don’t impact native ads. So, even if an internet user has one activated, your content will still show up on the websites you choose. 

Native advertising works on desktops and mobile devices, so marketers can reach their target audience wherever they spend online. 

What Is Content Marketing?

Content marketing is a broad term that refers to creating and distributing many types of content. Blog posts, templates and checklists, ebooks, whitepapers, infographics, memes, and videos are all content marketing examples. This makes content marketing easy and difficult: easy because you have many options, yet difficult because it may be hard to choose when and how to use each type of content for the most significant results. 

Benefits of Content Marketing

There are many benefits of creating a robust content marketing strategy. When you identify the type of content your target audience is most interested in, you can serve them that content across various platforms, including your website, social pages, and email marketing campaigns. 

Content marketing drives traffic, engagement, and sales when done correctly. Additionally, content marketing helps to move your audience through the buyer’s journey, building trust along the way. And the more your audience knows, likes, and trusts you, the more likely they are to purchase your services or products. One study found that 67% of users rely heavily on a brand’s content when making purchasing decisions.

While more of a long game than a direct approach like native advertising, content marketing is an essential marketing strategy.  

What Do Native Advertising and Content Marketing Have in Common?

Native advertising and content marketing are both ways to distribute content. Native advertising distributes content through ads on various websites. The content created through content marketing, on the other hand, lives on platforms you “own,” such as your social pages and the blog on your website. Both of these marketing strategies focus on building trust with your target audience to increase engagement and sales. 

Typically, native ads result in a quicker response, while users usually need to view a lot of content (56 touchpoints according to one study) before taking action. And while both strategies work on their own, they are most potent when used together. 

Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing Use Cases 

Native advertising is best used to serve content to a targeted audience that is clearly defined and specific. You can place direct ads that appeal to your audience and encourage them to take action at the moment. On the other hand, content marketing is best used to reach and grow your audience and is considered a more long-term approach to conversions and sales. 

However, it doesn’t matter how great your content is if nobody sees it. That’s where native advertising and content marketing can be used together. You can place a native ad on an external website to drive traffic to your website, where a user can then interact with your content, resulting in a strong ROI. Once on your website via your native ad, users have access to all of your content pieces, moving them through the buyer’s journey. 

In a way, a native ad engages new audiences quickly and effectively. Then, once they click your ad and land on your website (or wherever your ad takes them), content marketing pieces step up to the plate to keep your new audience member engaged. Together, native advertising and content marketing work to grow your brand.

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