Content marketing is “a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action”. Its purpose is to attract and retain customers by consistently creating and curating relevant and valuable content, with a focus placed on owning media and not renting it.
Native advertising, on the other hand, is paying someone else to distribute your content.
Successful native advertising strategy takes content marketing into consideration, and when paired, content marketing and native work hand in hand to build audience across multiple channels. But the bottom line is, they are not the same thing nor do they share similar perspective and approach.
Native ads look to deliver chameleon content and integrated ads that subtly influence users to convert, while traditional content marketing focus is more about developing unique pieces for readers that stand out and speak for themselves. Native advertising lends itself to being site specific in format, whereas content marketing seeks to be easily shared from site to site, channel to channel. Regardless, neither will be truly profitable without some level of cohesion and balance between each other.
Furthermore, native advertising is not the same as sponsored content. Sponsored content, as frequently found on Facebook and BuzzFeed, simply means promoted, same site posts (GoDigital).
Sponsored content is more in line with the general goal of content marketing, seeking to gain readership loyalty and generate increased brand awareness – whereas native ads emphasize user engagement with the goal of selling products, services and improving return on ad spend.
Despite fundamental differences, content marketing is essential to native advertising in that without lead social sharing sites, native ads would not be nearly as rewarding. In many ways content marketing and content sponsorship have paved the way for reaping the rewards of native advertising, just as competitive native advertising has made content marketing more profitable as well. The relationship is mutually beneficial, and understanding definitive distinctions can help in developing high level strategies for using content marketing to your native advertising advantage.