The TripleLift 2015 State of Native Advertising reported that consumers are twice as likely to say they don’t care about content that is an advertisement as long as it’s engaging. TripleLift also reported that 85% of users were visually engaged with mobile native advertisements. Consumers are getting so comfortable with native advertising that there is now a fear of content blindness (as opposed to banner blindness)! If native advertisements have been around long enough for the potential of content-blindness, it’s ridiculous that marketers are still confused by native advertising. More recently this confusion has leaked all over the practice of content marketing, my baby… how dare they?
Rant warning in effect.
On November 6th, 2014 Joe Pulizzi wrote on the Content Marketing Institute’s blog that content marketing is NOT native advertising. While he was responding to a columnist from The Wall Street Journal who confused the two terms, he ended the post (after much clarification) with the conclusion that content marketing and native advertising can and should actually work together. So here was one instance where a well-respected publication talks about content marketing and native advertising interchangeably and the well-respected Content Marketing Institute called them out on it.
Here in this in-depth research-based Moz article, the opposite occurs and content marketing is pitted against native advertising in sort-of a “which one is more profitable?” show down. I disagree that the two are necessarily head-to-head competing for your marketing team’s business.
I’m asking myself how are marketers still being so misled when it comes to native advertising? I’ve already spent a lot of time trying to demystify native advertising for the marketing community:
- I wrote about the controversy surrounding native ads here last year.
- I hosted the SEMPO conference on native ads at Google in Montreal and moderated a panel discussion of marketers and media discussing how native ads fit into search and how PR teams are using them. Then I wrote about the outcomes of the presentations and discussions here
- After that I was asked to guest post about native ads here for Unbounce. I wrote all about what a native ad is and isn’t and went through some examples of native ads that make use of landing pages to create coherent and actionable native ad campaigns.
- As recently as March 2015 I wrote an AOD blog post here distinguishing commonly misused marketing terms, including the difference between a native ad and a sponsored post.
It has been over a year since the native advertising boom hit the marketing world and here I am still blogging for clarity’s sake like a sucker. I’m doing my part to debunk and demystify native ads myths but I’m going to need backup from my marketing colleagues far and wide. Calling all marketers to please read about content marketing and native advertising and refrain from writing about it until you understand the difference. Its inexcusable to confuse a type of paid media with an entire strategic marketing framework – especially for big name publications like the Wall Street Journal and Moz.
Native advertising and content marketing are not the same thing and they are not in direct competition with one another for marketer’s business. Lee Odden feels the same way I do. His November 26th, 2014 Top Rank blog post is a rich discussion about how and why “native ads and brand journalism are pieces of the content marketing puzzle.”
Comparing native advertising to content marketing isn’t like comparing apples and oranges, it’s like comparing apples to the fruit bowl – native advertising is just another channel that content marketers can make use of.
Above all else, ignore the ad unit and strive to make meaningful and engaging content, whether owned, paid or earned…and FFS learn what native advertising actually is and isn’t, because if I have to write one more blog about this topic you’ll all hear about it!