Sponsored Content Vs. Native Advertising: What Works Better?

Featuring some of your content in native ads or sponsored posts is one of the fastest ways to build brand awareness among your target customers. Learn the difference between sponsored content and native advertising so that you can use both strategically to achieve your goals.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is a general term that encompasses a broad spectrum of ads, including sponsored content. These ads usually include a headline, a compelling description, and sometimes, an image. They appear to be links to related content – and truthfully, they are.

Click on them, and a link takes you to a full article, usually on the advertiser’s website. Typically, these articles should provide your target audience with helpful information that answers questions, solves problems, or helps them get the most use out of your product.

Native ads include:

  • Links that appear on related brands’ websites or in their newsletters
  • Paid content that pops up in prospects’ social media feeds
  • Product recommendations and promoted listings on e-commerce websites
  • Ads that appear at the top of a user’s search results

Even though they bear labels that identify them as ads, if you look at them closely, they seem like links to content closely related to the content you’re viewing or have searched for.

Sponsored Content

Native ads also include sponsored content — content that brands pay to post on another’s website, newsletter, or print magazine. If you’ve ever subscribed to a news organization’s newsletter and find an article or video for a product “guaranteed to make you feel younger/prettier/healthier in only 30 days,” you’ve received sponsored content.

Similarly, if you’ve leafed through your city’s local magazine in your doctor’s office as you wait for them to call you inside, you’ve probably noticed that some of its articles were, um, let’s say, less than objective. Yes, they might provide helpful information about how to recover from a nose job, for example, but if you look closely, they’re an ad for one of the prominent plastic surgeons in your area.

When Should You Use Native Advertising and Sponsored Content?

Native ads don’t just capture prospects’ attention. More importantly, they leverage the power of content marketing to inform them about issues they care about, teach them ways to solve challenges they face, and help them discover new ways of seeing the world. They’re especially effective in several situations, including:

Building Brand and Product Awareness

Statistics show that your audience will pay 53 percent more attention to native ads than banner ads. Native advertising and, by extension, sponsored content, account for 86 percent of Facebook impressions and deliver 60 percent more engagement and three times the information retention.

Those numbers make native ads a fantastic choice when you’re expanding your brand into new territory, introducing a new product line, or have acquired another company and want to brand it as your own. Combined with today’s AI-driven targeting capabilities, native ads can reach new audience segments, inform target audiences about new product offerings, and build trust in your brand.

Positioning Your Brand as an Industry Thought Leader

Whether it’s a print article in a prestigious local magazine or sponsored content in national and regional publications (such as the New York Times, Forbes, or Buzzfeed), long-form content delivered in a sponsored ad format can get your content in front of industry leaders and other influencers.

Similarly, linking your most helpful, informative content to paid search ads can put your brand squarely in the sights of people searching for information about challenges they face. If your content lives up to its promise, you’ll be on their radar so long as your content, products, and services maintain their quality.

Promote Valuable Content

If your company is like most large corporations, you publish several pieces of flagship content each quarter. White papers, complete guides, ebooks, evergreen blog posts, and studies all can prove immensely helpful to your target audience – if only they could find it.

Linking your content to native ads and using data-driven targeting to show the ads to your target audience, allows prospects to find these critical resources. Using native ads to enhance the reach of these foundational pillar pieces is one of the most effective ways to automate your content strategy at scale.

Recommend Related Products

Amazon, Walmart, and other e-commerce brands have absolutely mastered the art of product recommendations via native content. As their customers search for products on their sites, related products pop up on the page or in cart abandonment emails.

Using content automation and targeting software, these ads aren’t as salesy as you might think. They help customers save money on shipping and time by providing them with everything they need to use the product.

Brands that use third-party sites to sell their products can also pay these e-commerce sites to display their products above their competitors’ offerings as users search for what they need.

Link to Information That Enhances Customer Experience

One of the finest examples of native advertising was David Ogilvy’s groundbreaking 1950s magazine ad for Guinness beer. Instead of a traditional ad, Ogilvy created a page that looked like a visual guide to the various types of oysters and the difference in their taste. Even today, if you’re an oyster lover, you can look at that page and crave a Guinness-and-oyster appetizer. The content is that good.

Guinness example - the difference between sponsored content and native advertising

Image via GoRetro.com

Today’s content marketing teams can create native ads that link to wine pairing guides for Southern fried chicken (for a chicken chain), to sheet music (for online music lessons), or to gas-savings tips (for service station chains or automobile manufacturers).

During content planning sessions, brainstorm types of content that will enhance your customers’ user experience with your product. Then, create native ads using a syndication service that link to them.

Native ads are just one more tool in your content marketing toolbox. A robust content marketing platform can help enterprise-sized content teams incorporate this strategy and simplify the content creation process from ideation to creation to analyzing the result.

DivvyHQ allows you to begin with a germ of an idea, create content around it, and then publish it, either as native ads or owned content. And, you and your teams can try it for 14 days with no investment or obligation on your part. See what it can do for your team. Set up your free trial today.