Content marketing has gotten much more complex than when it started out. You have a lot more options now than simply publishing a blog post.
Now, content has become a part of advertising – or is it that advertising has become a part of content? Either way, the two have joined together in new ways to try to reach consumers who are savvier about how to spot advertising and avoid it at all costs.
Native advertising and sponsored content have both emerged as effective ways to reach more audience members. But the two are so similar that many brands and even marketers have been confused about how to differentiate the two or which one is better.
Here’s what you need to know about native advertising vs. sponsored content:
Native advertising has been around for a long time, even if it does seem like a relatively new fad in the world of online advertising.
Native advertising has been used for many years in print. You’ve probably seen them yourself a hundred times and didn’t know it. You are scanning through the paper or a magazine, and you see what looks like any other article, but it’s really an ad.
In the simplest terms, native advertising is any ad that is designed to look just like the other content on the printed or virtual page. It might use the same font, colors, graphics, layout, or other elements. The goal is simply to create the same experience for the reader.
Some publications asked advertisers to change certain elements of these ads to make them look just different enough. For example, if the publication used a standard serif font, it may have asked that native ads use sans serif fonts.
Regulations have also been passed that require that native ads be identified as ads. Therefore, you are likely to see a small “AD” listed somewhere near this content.
Digital native ads show up as the ads listed at the top of Google search results and ads that appear right in the middle of the news feed on Facebook. You will often see the word “ad” or “sponsored” right next to these ads.
Sponsored content is a type of native advertising, which is what makes it confusing for some to distinguish between the two.
Not all native advertising is sponsored content, but all sponsored content is native advertising.
Sponsored content can be a paid review or a paid article. The article is not always about the brand or the product. Instead, the article can be about a topic related to the brand or product, or it can include a discreet link to the brand or product.
You see this kind of content all the time on popular sites like Buzzfeed. A brand like Hallmark writes an article about holiday traditions (with one of them being to hang a Hallmark ornament on the tree) or a brand like Wendy’s writes a post about the things you do when you get “hangry” (angry because you’re hungry).
This kind of content can be fun to read, it can be informative, and it can be compelling. It draws people in, and it lowers their barriers. People don’t recognize this content as advertising, so they don’t automatically throw up walls to its message or try to avoid it.
The Federal Communications Commission requires that sponsored content is identified as such, but the notification is usually discreet and does not deter people from reading the content. The more compelling the content is, the less the readers will even care that it is sponsored.
Getting the Most from Native Ads
While native advertising and sponsored content are effective as they are, you have to do more than just including them in your advertising strategy to meet your goals.
One of the best ways to get maximum results from your strategy is to use an intent-based platform that combines native advertising and sponsored content.
In-feed has an advanced algorithm that looks at user intent to understand what people are really interested in or looking for when they are online. It looks beyond keywords to include indicators like sites visited, sites bookmarked, pages clicked, comments left, and so on.
For each visitor to a page, In-feed quickly analyzes this data to determine the best native ad to show. It also takes into account the current browser and device being used, the time of day, and the day of the week.
Ads are tailored to the user, so they are more likely to get clicks and conversions. The native ads preserve the user experience, and they are more likely to avoid being flagged by ad blocking software.
It is important that you tailor your advertising strategy as closely as you can to get the results you want. Intent-based algorithms help you reach the users you want, and native ads help you draw them in so they are more compelled to act.