top of page
  • Writer's pictureMike Goldberg

Content Marketing vs. Content Advertising: Know the Difference

Updated: Mar 19, 2019

Is it content or advertising? Both

There’s been a lot of talk about content creation and what it means for the future of marketing, and for good reason. Content marketing has single-handedly revolutionized digital marketing. Sure, that’s a pretty bold statement, but one that deserves some credence. It seems everyone is talking about it. And no wonder, 78 percent of CMO’s think custom content is the future of marketing, and 91 percent of B2B marketers are actively using content marketing.

Now, let’s talk content marketing versus content advertising.

Content advertising is rarely written about, and when it is discussed, it is often under the veil of native advertising, a method of digital advertising that has somehow been associated with content marketing. Last spring, I attended the Content Marketing Summit in Scottsdale expecting to learn about the art of developing great content, but almost three-quarters of the show was dominated by discussions of native advertising and advertising execution. The fact that all the sponsors were native advertising companies should have clued me in to the agenda. As a creator of content, this frustrates me almost as much as when people outside the New York City area think the Yankees are the only baseball team in town.

Content marketing is not about selling or promotion. Yes, it has the word marketing in it, but it’s really about telling engaging stories that help and guide potential customers to your product or service. Buyers go through about 57% of the purchasing process before ever talking to sales, so an effective content strategy, as you surely know, will help guide prospects down the funnel without pushing too hard. That’s where content advertising comes in.

Content advertising has absolutely nothing to do with writing despite the misleading moniker. It is strictly an advertising campaign - a one-time effort to promote or reach customers with a content asset. Whether you are pushing folks to download an e-book through a paid social media channel, or promoting a whitepaper in a display advertising campaign, content advertising is just that – the method of driving attention for your content marketing. Nevertheless, many in the industry continue to couple the two, and it can be frustrating for those of us looking for great tips and ideas on how to produce the best content first and foremost.

I recently read a terrific piece penned by the founder of the Content Marketing Institute, Joe Pulizzi, in which he stalwartly explains the differences between native advertising and content marketing   This is probably the most sound and lucid explanation of why these two strategies are in fact, not one in the same. Kudos Joe! I implore everyone to read his article.

Joe does a great job of calling out the differences. There is content marketing, and then there’s content advertising.  And these are two very different ideas.  To reiterate, because I think it is so important to do so, content marketing is the technique of creating valuable information to influence or educate a clearly defined audience.  Content advertising is the method of distributing and sharing the information so that it is in front of the right audience.  And native advertising is just one of the methods of sharing content that can be employed.  That does not mean native advertising is the bearer of the content itself.

Comparing native advertising and content marketing is like saying amateur wrestling is the same as professional wrestling.  Sure, there are some similarities in the holds that are used, but one of them is an Olympic sport, while the other features men in tights hitting each other with steel chairs.

19 views0 comments


bottom of page