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Native advertising vs content marketing: what’s the difference?

Native advertising vs content marketing: what’s the difference?

Posted by on November 13, 2018

As businesses get smarter about their digital marketing strategies, content marketing and native advertising are fast becoming must-have components of any high performing strategy. Despite the rising popularity of these marketing mechanisms, considerable confusion still exists as to how they differ and compliment each other.

A content marketing strategy is a strategic initiative that aims to achieve marketing goals through the use of targeted content creation and distribution. 

Content creation could be in the form of blog posts, videos, podcasts, etc. and is created for the benefit of your readers or potential customers. To drive more engagement to that original content, native advertising is used to promote the content. It guides your customers on their buying journey by attracting them to content that is relevant or useful. Let’s look a little closer at the different formats:

Native Advertising

With native advertising, the ads are targeted to readers who may find the content interesting and informational, as part of the natural flow of the website. In this way, it works with your content and enhances a customer’s journey – native ads should not be a distraction, but enhance a readers user experience.

When creating your content strategy, performance metrics are essential. Research shows that native advertising campaigns consistently offer market leading ROI with higher engagement and conversions over traditional digital marketing channels. There are many companies operating as native advertising service providers that are not focussed on attracting a quality audience, so having a good understanding of your conversion rate is essential when evaluating what native network to choose. Don’t focus on clicks and traffic – any network can send you traffic, but you will often discover these are low quality clicks that have an extremely low chance of converting to paying customers. If you are focused on achieving a positive on return on investment with your content marketing spend, a premium native advertising network can help you achieve this.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is a key component of every business with a serious focus on their digital marketing strategy. Whether your goal is to raise brand awareness, improve SEO, increase email signups or sell more product, content marketing can help you reach these goals with long term results. It may take more time to create valuable content, but it is worth it – unlike a single ad unit that quickly loses it’s impact, quality content can resonate and continue to return value for multiple years.

Content marketing can take many forms, with those traditionally providing the best results as follows:

  • Case studies
  • Podcasts
  • Videos
  • Blogs
  • Infographics
  • Ebooks
  • White papers

The downside of some generic click bait networks

You are probably already familiar with Outbrain and Taboola, two big native advertising networks. If you read many of the local news sites as well as international behemoths such as CNN or Mashable, you will have seen the “recommended Links” powered by these networs. These can bring massive clicks to the advertiser and deliver revenue to the publishers and native networks, but the click quality is often sub-par. A cheaper cost per click is only relevant if the quality of the click is retained – a $2 CPC that deliver a 5% conversion rate is 2.5X more valuable than a $0.50 CPC that returns a 0.5% conversion rate.

Tips for a more effective content marketing and native advertising campaign

How can you best utilise native advertising as part of your content marketing strategy, ensuring you make the most impact? Here are our top tips:

  1. Create relevant content. As a marketer, the first thing you should focus on is understanding your target audience. Study your analytics as well as external research to determine what content resonates with them. Use this to learn about the characteristics of your demographic and then create content that answers their questions, fills a need or informs them in a way that presents your product/business in a favourable light.
  2. Create distribution. You have created an article that you know potential customers are going to love, but how will they find it? Native advertising is the fastest way to attract new customers and consumers of your content. To achieve the best results, the native ads promoting your content need to be served in a relevant context where your audience are most likely to be engaged. If you are promoting your accounting services to small businesses, you don’t want to be paying for exposure on a Pokemon Go fan site.
  3. Create relationships. Your customer’s buying journey is an accumulation of their needs. Once you have engaged with them through your content, don’t stop there. Keep giving them a reason to come back by creating content that continues to educate them as to why your business deserves their custom. Answer questions through the content you produce and creating trust through relationships is key.

High-quality content matters to your marketing

There are no shortage of options for your digital marketing campaigns, but what will set you apart from competitors is getting the best return on investment with your marketing spend. Content marketing and native advertising can give you the edge, but you need to always be asking yourself if the content you are putting out there gives your reader value. If you can create content that resonates with your audience, promoted through networks that deliver the appropriate context, then you are well placed to generate outsized returns on your marketing investment.

If you want to give your content the boost it deserves and attract more quality customers, give Spike Native Network a call today.

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