A Scenic Tour of the Online World

Content Marketing and Native Advertising are NOT the Same

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

HUGE bummer that Stuart Elliott’s Advertising column in the New York Times on 3/19 refers to content marketing as “the new buzz phrase on Madison Avenue for the creation of sponsored content.” It will be an even bigger bummer if he isn’t wrong.

Sponsored content / native advertising / whatever they want to call to make it less offensive is exactly what content marketing isn’t.

Content marketing is attracting an audience by not selling to them. It’s attracting an audience by providing information that is useful and valuable to that audience and that relates to your expertise or products, but does not promote or push them. 

Certainly, native advertising can be entertaining and enjoyable when done well, same as content marketing. That doesn’t make them the same. And it doesn’t make a Travel Channel host appearing in Land Rover ads any different than Ricardo Montalban and his “rich, Corinthian leather” in his Chrysler commercials from the 70s just because the Land Rover ads talk about the “wild places” that a Land Rover can take you.

It’s not as if the content informs the audience in any meaningful way. And it doesn’t entertain – laughing with ironic detachment at Ricardo 40 years later doesn’t count.

I’m sure there are examples of native advertising done well. So far, though, all I’ve seen are the really bad native advertising attempts.

Regardless, it isn’t content marketing. As loosely defined as “content marketing” has been so far, I still hope we can keep it from getting confused with advertising of any kind.

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