Long gone are the days where a simple television, radio, or newspaper advertisement is persuasive enough to convert a viewer into a customer. In fact, according to advertising experts at American Express: “It takes at least 27 impressions of a brand before a prospect even responds.” 

It’s no surprise then that businesses have turned to creative ways to reach potential customers outside of the traditional methods.

Of the many options available to marketing professionals, two of the most successful and popular options in the digital landscape are Content Marketing and Native Advertising. 

While similar (and often connected) there are important distinctions between the two formats that business owners and media buyers should consider when creating their advertising campaigns and allocating the budgets to support them.

What Is Content Marketing?

According to the Content Marketing Institute (yes, that’s a thing), Content Marketing is “a strategic marketing approach focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly-defined audience — and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

In layman’s terms, Content Marketing is a strategy where a brand builds trust with an audience by sharing informative, exciting, and value-packed “content,” including photos, videos, articles, and even audio recordings. Over time these pieces of content provide consumers with enough knowledge to convert them from audience members to customers.

Content Marketing is not always marked as an “advertisement,” especially when delivered via social media or as a website blog article. However, consumers recognize that a brand is taking the time to provide valuable information to them, which can make them more receptive to traditional ads and offerings from that business.

It is important to note, however, that if the content being shared is a paid endorsement or affiliate offer from a third party – legally that content must be clearly labeled as “sponsored.”    

The Benefits of Content Marketing

Did you know that 53% of businesses use Content Marketing as part of their marketing strategy? Here are just some of the many reasons so many companies focus on Content Marketing:

  1. Building Consumer Trust: One way to earn trust with potential customers is to demonstrate that the business is an expert in its field. Content Marketing helps with this by giving businesses the opportunity to show off both knowledge and expertise.

  2. Low Barrier to Entry: Since anyone with a social media account can start putting out content, getting started with content marketing can be quick and easy. Many small business owners (and even some executives) choose to handle Content Marketing themselves until their success drives the need for professional assistance.

  3. Return on Investment: Business owners capable of creating good content on their own can do so for free, though it may cost them a few hours per week. Content marketing that is properly published to a company website also contributes to search engine optimization (meaning that the site is easier to find in a Google search) for additional value at no additional cost.

What Is Native Advertising?

Native Advertising is a powerful form of advertising that seamlessly blends into the content around it, usually appearing alongside or at the bottom of a website’s article or posts. The term “native” comes from the notion that it looks natural — or native — to the other content on the website. 

Native Advertising is commonly identified by “sponsored links” text, or similar language, near the display widget (as required by law in the USA and internationally.)  

(Want to learn more about this advertising option? Read our full overview of this topic here.)

Native Advertising is often used in conjunction with content marketing, or as a driver to send new traffic to content marketing articles and videos around the web.

The Benefits of Native Ads

Business Insider estimates that companies spent roughly $21 billion on native ads in 2018. Here are some of the reasons that businesses are doubling down on Native Ads spending this year:

  1. Leverage: Popular news outlets, magazine brands, and influencer blogs bring both subscribers and their trust to the table. Paying for Native Advertising on these types of digital publishers provides companies with the opportunity to tap into that brand leverage to attract new customers.

  2. Speed: Distributing campaign content to thousands of publishers through traditional PR methods can take dozens, if not hundreds, of hours. By placing an ad through a Native Advertising platform, businesses can display their campaigns on thousands of digital publisher’s websites in mere minutes.

  3. Effectiveness: One study found that consumers are more drawn to Native Ads than traditional banner and display ads. In fact, people were 53% more likely to pay attention to Native Advertising than to look at display ads.

How to Choose the Best Approach

People sometimes believe that the best approach involves choosing either Content Marketing or Native Advertising and sticking to one focus. In reality, combining the two is far more likely to deliver the results that a business needs to thrive.

  1. Consider the Budget: Content Marketing can be less expensive than Native Advertising, especially if the business owner chooses to create the content on their own. If you have a smaller budget, then focus more resources on Content Marketing and SEO until you are ready to buy more traffic to the content and increase your revenue.

  2. Choose a Proven Ad Network: Joining a high-performing native network may have a higher upfront cost, especially if you aim for those that cater to the most popular publishers. However, the increased investment usually pays off with higher quality traffic and better advertiser support options.

  3. Hire Professionals: There’s a reason even professional writers hire editors and professional photographers hire image retouchers. Partnering with professionals helps to ensure your content is on par with the best in your niche. This is important if you plan to use this content for Native Ad placements.

The best business strategy focuses on both organic and paid elements. Content Marketing and Native Ads offer the best of both worlds. 

As a business, finding a service provider that can handle both effectively is not always easy. At Content.ad, we offer services for both Content Marketing, Native Advertising, and more. 

Reach out to learn more about how you can get started with us today.


  1. 53% of Businesses Use Content Marketing – Small Business Trends
  2. Spending on native advertising is soaring as marketers and digital media publishers realize the benefits – Business Insider Intelligence
  3. Consumers Look At Native Ads More Than Display, According To New Sharethrough Study – ShareThrough
  4. The Most Important Rule In Marketing
  5. What Is Content Marketing
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