Native Advertising vs. Content Marketing

Native advertising, also called sponsored content, advertorials, or infomercials isn’t a new concept. Newspaper advertorials are a much older form of this practice, where advertising is dressed up to look like editorial content and placed in publications.

In the digital age, native advertising can now take the form of Sponsored Stories on Facebook, Sponsored Tweets on Twitter, or sponsored articles on websites, but warns marketers that these types of placements should be clearly marked as sponsored content so consumers aren’t tricked into believing they’re the same as traditional editorial content.

Though different from the value-added strategy of content marketing, native advertising is still a legitimate form of marketing. The main distinction is that content marketers are aiming to build long-term trust, consistently providing value for readers without asking for anything in return, while most often the goal the native advertising is to have the reader purchase a product or service before obtaining this valuable content.

Here’s a look at some other key differences:


  • Native advertising: The content may appear to provide value, but that goal is secondary to selling a product or service. Often the advertorial may try to solve a problem that conveniently involves buying the brand’s product or service. However, the content of native advertising generally does not have inherent value without the reader buying a product or service.
  • Content marketing: Here, the goal is to build trust over the long term by providing relevant, useful information. Ultimately, the hope is that content marketing will help generate sales or sales leads but that’s part of a longer sales funnel. Sales are not expected solely as a result of one content marketing piece. Content marketing provides value to readers that’s independent of them buying a product or service. The content is valuable in itself.


  • Native advertising: Sometimes, native ads take a pushy and salesy tone. Or they may have a faux-friendly tone to emulate the writing style of the publication.
  • Content marketing: Effective content marketing takes a knowledgeable, yet authentic tone that doesn’t try to pressure the reader to buy. Instead, it acknowledges the reader’s challenges or pain points and offers actionable tip and guidance. Even if those solutions don’t involve the brand’s product or service (in fact, it’s better if they don’t because then it feels more genuine and less self-interested), the goal is to engage with the reader and build rapport.


  • Native advertising: Nowadays, readers are wary of being marketed to and many can smell a sales pitch a mile away, so the benefits of native advertising can be fairly limited.
  • Content marketing: Content marketing builds trust with readers, helps create shareable content for blogs, social media feeds, email lists, and avoids some of the potential legal issues associated with native advertising because it doesn’t try to mislead.

Now that we’ve outlined some of the differences that we’ve noticed between native ads and content marketing why not get in touch with us to discuss?