Native Ads, Branded Content, and Content Commerce: What’s the difference?

In this rapidly-changing world of media and commerce, marketers and brands are in a constant battle to keep up with the latest marketing terminologies and the various ways of advertising their products.

We all know how consumers are deeply skeptical of advertisements. After all, nobody wants to see intrusive advertisements when browsing through an online magazine or trying to focus on a piece of content. Therefore, marketers and businesses now need to think of creative and unobtrusive ways of advertising. But first, they need to clearly understand the difference between the various advertising formats to benefit from them in the best possible way.

This article will cover the key differences between Native Advertising, Branded Content, and Content Commerce so that you have a better idea of which is the best fit for your business goals.

Native Advertising

To put it simply, native advertising is paid content in the form of videos, infographics, and blog posts in which a brand’s content appears in a third-party outlet alongside a publication’s editorial content. 

Native ads are aptly named as they appear to be native to the site that they’re on. The ads are designed to match the look and feel of the already existing content on the site. This is what makes native ads so appealing, unlike display ads that clearly stand out from the rest of the content on a site. 

Native ads usually come with a tag denoting them as sponsored or promoted content. Publications usually charge brands on a pay-per-click or pay-per-impressions basis. This means that your budget largely determines how often your content is shown to customers. If you’re a brand with a large budget, the publisher will serve your content to the audience more frequently than if you were a brand with a limited budget.

Let’s look at some example of native ads.

The ad below is an example of native advertisement on The Onion, an American satirical digital media company that publishes articles on local and international news. The ads have a ‘Sponsored’ label and are very much in line with the look and feel of the website.

Here is another example of native advertising on LinkedIn with the ‘Promoted’ label. As we can see, the ad is very similar to any other post that we would see on LinkedIn except for the Ad label at the top.

Google paid search ads are also an excellent example of native advertisements. These ads appear at the top of search results and look very similar to the rest of the content on the page.

Branded Content

Branded content is produced in-house and appears on a brand’s own content hub. Some brands might also have their branded content featured on third-party publications. In this case, one might refer to the branded content as native advertising. Thus, some branded content can be classified as native advertising. 

Branded content is perfect for highlighting a brand’s values through creative or emotive storytelling. It’s a great way for brands striving to build better relationships with customers. Moreover, the good thing about branded content is that it is never overtly salesy, unlike display advertising or even native advertising in some cases.

The following image is a still-shot image from a Red Bull video on Youtube. This video reinforces the brand’s image of being the perfect drink for thrill-seekers and serves as an excellent example of branded content.

Content Commerce

Content commerce essentially means combining inspirational content and shoppable products together.

For brands, content commerce can represent an additional sales channel that doesn’t rely solely on on-site traffic. One could also say that it is very similar to affiliate marketing. The only difference is that with affiliate marketing, brands drive traffic away from publisher sites. However, with content commerce, brands empower publishers to own the checkout experience. This drives higher conversion rates and allows publishers to showcase brands in the best light possible. 

Products featured as content commerce are curated to align with both the publisher’s and brand’s story and created with the intention to inspire readers to purchase at the point of inspiration. With content commerce, brands and publishers have the opportunity to capture revenue through relevant, high-quality content – and consumers experience a more convenient way to shop. 

An example of content commerce – editorial content featuring products as part of the article, giving the customers the opportunity to purchase directly from the content. 

Content commerce should be seen as an additional sales channel for brands and retailers. And it is certainly not something that brands should avoid in the fear that it could take away current online store customers. With content commerce, brands and retailers have exciting opportunities to partner with publishers to reach new customer segments and increase e-commerce revenue.

A study of over 40,000 people (by the Harvard Business Review) found that 73% used multiple channels when shopping. These findings show that brands must be present on channels other than their own website to meet customer expectations.

The table below shows the comparison between native advertising, branded content and content commerce.

Conclusion

Now that we have looked into native advertising, branded content, and content commerce in detail, you should have a good understanding of which ad format suits your business. 

If you’re looking to create a stronger relationship with your customers and your primary focus isn’t sales, then branded content would be the best fit for your business. However, if you’re looking to sell your products, then native advertising or content commerce would be the way to go. 

While native advertising and content commerce are both great at generating sales, conversion rates tend to be higher with content commerce. This is because you drive engaged users away from the publisher’s website with native advertising, while the consumer remains on the site with content commerce. 

At Tipser, we’ve been helping brands sell their products on premium digital publications through embedded e-commerce for the past ten years. By connecting your inventory with Tipser, you can have your products featured in curated content, editorial articles, marketplaces, and social media platforms. 

So if you are a brand looking to sell your products on popular publications, connect with us here, and we’ll get you started. 

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