Content Marketing ROI vs. Native Advertising


Today, more and more marketers are investing into content marketing and native advertising. Basically due to the effectiveness and strong customer focus of these techniques.

However, there are still many people have a foggy idea of how one is different from the other. And, I don’t blame them. After all, content marketing and native advertising do appear to be similar in many ways:

  • both provide useful information to prospects and customers through a branded experience,
  • both can reside on a website and while native advertising is a third-party effort,
  • it’s typically made to look as similar as possible to the site’s own content.

Yet there’s a big distinction between content marketing and native advertising. To start with, content marketing is owned media while native advertising is a pay-to-play strategy with chiefly a promotional goal.

Another major difference is, cost. Plus, an increasing number of consumers today prefer to learn about products through high quality content, rather than promotional or sale-sy content.

Does it look like content marketing is winning this battle? What has your experience been?

Let’s dive in into mine and try to understand which one should you choose for your business – content marketing or native advertising – and why?

Let’s weigh them against each other to help you decide.

How They Work


Content marketing is creation and distribution of high quality and shareable content for blogs, social media feeds, and email lists with the purpose of building trust with readers.

Unlike native advertising, in content marketing, your brand owns the media instead of renting it. For instance, content syndication, as a part of a content marketing strategy, may involve pitching content to many top-tier publishers for coverage. If the content gets accepted, a link is given back to the company which increases the company’s search rankings, drive traffic, and provide user engagement via several social channels. Native advertising on the other hand, deals with promoting the content by paying a partner with a single publisher. This approach helps to place the content with a top-tier publisher that has millions of unique visitors.

What They Cost

The marketing cost

Content marketing costs depend largely on the scope of project, their outcomes, and most importantly, the specific needs of your company. While it’s difficult to put your finger on the exact number, you can estimate the cost of a content marketing project by identifying your content needs and understanding how each solution/campaign best aligns with your overarching business goals, budget, and the needs of your customers.

On the other hand, the average cost of launching a native advertising program with a top-tier news publisher is usually on the steeper side. According to Marketing Land, that figure could be anywhere around 54,000 in U.S. dollars. Yes, you could settle down with a second- or third-tier publisher, depending on your budget. But remember— less valuable publisher means lower reach.

What’s the Return

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The success of most of the content marketing campaigns are measured  based on (and this will vary depending on your specific goals) the number of leads generated and number of high quality links acquired. Social media shares generated by each campaign are also a yardstick when measuring the success of content marketing campaigns. By engaging in content marketing, agencies were able to produce better results through influencer marketing and content amplification, rather than just posting press releases. These outcomes are much influential, since they have a positive effect on organic rankings improve the reach manifolds.

In contrast, even though you pay to get your content published on a site, the reach is limited. A study by eMarketer suggests that “the most common issue cited by executives who use native advertising was of scale”. Another major drawback with native advertising is that, it is considered to be paid links by major search engines like Google, so it doesn’t improve your company’s organic ranking. However, native advertising has been proven to attract higher click rates compared to traditional advertising, so it can be considered as a potential alternative to banner ads and other outbound marketing methods

Therefore, by leveraging content marketing effectively, you can achieve a higher ROI by spending less. But if you want to reap the same ROI (as content marketing) with native advertising, the cost might just skyrocket. Therefore, at an early stage, it makes more sense to focus on content marketing to generate a bigger ROI and invest in native advertising later to extend reach and grow audiences.

So, content marketing or native advertising – what is your say? 

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