By Janine Pollack
Director, Integrated Marketing
I’ve been giving a lot of thought recently to terms taken for granted in digital marketing: Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality are often confused as are Content Marketing and Native Advertising.
Defining Content Marketing vs Native Advertising
Content marketing is a big, comprehensive term that is strategy-reliant on owned media such as a blog, a website, or white paper to share insights important to a brand. For example, as part of a larger content marketing strategy, MNI has previously created content addressing topics as varied as methods of optimizing the performance of digital campaigns to what Generation Z values in brands, with the goal of raising awareness of our brand’s authority on these topics.
So then, what is native advertising? First off, it’s a much more precise term, referring to ads placed on an advertising website’s paid media space. Example: for an energy company, I wrote a series of articles on the efficiency of windmills that ran in Fortune, with the goal of providing value on a particular topic to a carefully curated audience. Native units are, at their core, a paid media tactic, but they read and present like articles organic to the environments that surround them. When done well, native advertising enables brands to seamlessly integrate messaging into a time and space that aligns key messaging with key targets.
Push / Pull
As with so many things in life and advertising, native and content work best when in sync. A good native advertising piece will leverage an article, video, or infographic to present a call-to-action to a known, well-aligned audience. Once they click to learn more, you better be ready. That’s where custom content comes in. Does your site reward their curiosity? Does it draw them in and present them with opportunities to explore and engage with your content? Make sure you’re ready to receive and provide more information to establish or begin a dialogue with people who are interested in what your native piece previewed.
Align Native and Content Strategies with Business Objectives
For a content strategy to be successful, it must have a vision and a perspective that aligns with brand values. What does your brand value? What does it do best? How can it improve the way business is done?
Think of it is this way: Native advertising is out there, it’s prospecting for you. It is working the bar or dating app looking for someone who shares similar interests in work and play. Native advertising piques interests and content marketing is showing commitment.
Maximize Impact: Push Native Where and When It Matters Most
Native advertising formats are designed to create awareness, encourage engagement, and drive action. Technology platforms like Nativo enable storytelling at scale to accommodate most budgets. They work with partners like MNI to form meaningful connections with today’s digital consumer by serving content that informs and engages.
Native Advertising and Custom Content Shared Interests
In content marketing, we build our own audience. In native advertising, we go to other channels and pay to access their audiences. They should work together but to work at all they both need a few basic elements to fuel performance:
- Create content that encourages the reader to act.
- Know how you are going to measure results: what is it that you want users to do after they read your article or view your video?
- Try to put a different spin on what you are saying. If everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence or the benefits of hybrid cars, what’s your unique spin?
- Don’t lie. Native content and custom content are not ads. They do not sell. They spark ideas. If you try to slip a sell in, you risk alienating your audience.
- Remember your content is a guest in an environment so make efforts to fit in. Make sure what you are talking about is relevant to the environment.
Above all, whatever format you use, be interesting. Tell interesting stories and be authentic. Remember to tag your pieces and to place them where and when it will mean the most. If messaging provides value, they will come.