The term “content advertising” originates from online marketing and describes a method of distributing content with the help of active advertising measures. Due to the terminology and methods used, content advertising is often equated with content marketing and native advertising, but this is not correct. While all three forms of online marketing share certain characteristics, there are also some important differences, which are described in more detail below.
Content advertising is a variant of online marketing in which high-quality content is distributed through regular advertising channels. This definition is deliberately broad, as content advertising uses a wide variety of content and advertising formats. The only decisive factor is that it is high-quality content that is actively distributed via an advertising channel.
This also shows the difference to content marketing, because this variant is attributed to inbound marketing, while content advertising belongs to outbound marketing. Accordingly, SEO plays an important role in content marketing; after all, the content that you want to present must also be found. Since in inbound marketing the customer comes to the company, in content marketing you have to lay out a kind of trail for the reader by optimizing the page and the content, so that he is led to the content by the right search terms. With content advertising it is different, because here the content is deliberately advertised without the user having to go on a big online search.
But of course, promoting content doesn’t mean resorting to cheap gimmicks or puffery. Cheap gimmickry tends to damage the company’s reputation and devalues even actually very good content that is being promoted. Ideally, content and advertising should be on the same level. The exact form of advertising should, of course, depend on the content being advertised, but content and ads must be of equal quality.
Differentiating between content advertising and native advertising is a bit more difficult, and often the two terms are used interchangeably. Native advertising is about merging advertising with the editorial content of a website so that the reader can no longer easily distinguish between paid and natural content (“paid content vs. organic content”). This method is controversial even within the marketing industry and – if not used wisely – can damage the image of the advertising companies. With content advertising, on the other hand, there is a clear demarcation between paid content and editorial content, although ideally the latter plays no role at all. If you download a white paper, a guidebook or something similar because you think the content is convincing, it ultimately doesn’t matter how you got to this content. The user may not even realize that he has followed a paid link to get the desired content. The advertising therefore only serves to attract the reader’s attention – but he is convinced by the high-quality content that is hidden behind the advertising.
What are the advantages of content advertising?
One of the biggest advantages of content advertising is certainly the fact that you don’t have to worry about making the content easy to find. SEO measures, keywords and the like play no role whatsoever in content advertising and can therefore be completely ignored. Instead, you simply choose the distribution channel that you think is most suitable for the content in question and buy corresponding quotas of advertising space or advertising time. This not only makes the whole thing very simple, it also allows ads and content to be used in a very targeted way. This is especially helpful in the social media space, because social media sites like Facebook usually know a lot about their users. On Facebook, for example, you could target tech-savvy car enthusiasts between 20 and 40 with a guide to changing their oil at home. This helps limit the cost of content advertising and also usually ensures a high conversion rate.
The ability to target content also brings another advantage: very specific topics and small target groups can be served, for which content marketing measures would be far too costly and inefficient. In addition, content advertising can usually be scaled well; after all, there is a suitable advertising channel for every target group and every reach. This also contributes to the fact that content advertising can be operated cost-effectively.
What are the disadvantages of content advertising?
One of the biggest disadvantages of content advertising is the fact that the budget determines the success of the measure. This is true to a certain extent for content marketing, but once the content has been created and optimized, measures from this area are largely cost-free self-starters. With content advertising, the effect of the advertising basically stops as soon as the budget is used up – no further ads can be placed and the content “disappears” into the depths of the web. This can be a problem, especially for small projects with a limited budget, because if an advertising measure is terminated too quickly, a good part of the potential remains unused.
In addition, of course, there is a problem that all content advertising measures have in common: In order to achieve a continuous impact, you also have to continuously produce high-quality content. This is very time-consuming and hardly feasible, especially for smaller departments. Alternatively, of course, you can also buy appropriate content, but this comes at the expense of the budget.
In addition, the possibility of serving small target groups can also lead to difficulties. On the one hand, it is necessary in such a case to achieve a high conversion rate so that the advertising measure remains profitable. Secondly, small target groups are difficult to subdivide further, so that advertising can only be roughly targeted and not based on other characteristics. This means that many potential customers can be lost, and in the worst case, some users may even find the advertising annoying, so that it misses its mark completely.
Content advertising can be a very useful tool to advertise with high-quality content. The biggest advantage of content advertising is that you don’t have to rely on being found by others – thanks to paid advertising channels, the content appears exactly where you want to place it. So you don’t have to worry about SEO rules or page rank anymore, but can fully concentrate on the quality of your own content.
Generally, content advertising is a very efficient measure, so that you usually don’t have to worry about the budget. However, if money is very tight or a very small target group is to be addressed, content advertising still works, but the measure must be very well thought out and planned. Otherwise, the advertising can fizzle out without much effect.
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