Content marketing vs content advertising can be a difficult distinction to draw. First off, people tend to conflate the terms ‘advertising’ and ‘marketing’, making the assumption that they are the same thing. Second of all, people tend to run into the misconception that what we are comparing is content marketing vs traditional advertising, when we are not.


To begin, therefore, let me clarify that content advertising and traditional advertising ARE different. The one similarity that content marketing and content advertising do share is that of the ‘content’ itself. Traditional advertising does not use content.


So, what do we mean by content? Content, as opposed to traditional advertising material, has a much bigger focus on quality and its value to the customer. Whilst traditional advertising’s main purpose is to ‘get the word out’, content marketing/advertising both revolve around a much more refined strategy of providing potential customers with useful resources that will influence their buying decisions. Examples of traditional advertising regards things like TV ads, billboards and banners. On the other hand, content creation examples include things like educational blog posts, email newsletters and e-books.


However, you’re probably still wondering what distinguishes content marketing from content advertising. Let me explain.


What is content advertising vs what is content marketing

Content advertising entails the use of quality content in a disruptive manner via paid channels.  which usually involves an expense. On the other hand, the definition of content marketing is the use of quality content for the purpose of attracting the desired customer, rather than paying for this material to be shown directly to them. This explains why you might hear the content marketing vs content advertising distinction rephrased as ‘paid vs organic’ reach. Organic reach is essentially the reach you achieve without paid channels – your customers come to you.


It is useful to consider some examples of content marketing and content advertising to better understand their differences.

Content Advertising Examples 2021


  1. Social media paid advertising

One of the main examples of content advertising is that of running paid advertisements on social media platforms. For example, you can pay to promote your post on Instagram, or choose to run a campaign which features between people’s Instagram stories. The same goes for Tiktok and Facebook.


  1. Influencer marketing

Another important example is that of influencer marketing. Micro-influencers and macro-influences are used to promote brands because of their loyal, and often substantial, followings. Their influence (the hint is in the name) over their followers makes them hugely powerful players in the advertising industry.


  1. Pay per click (PPC)

PPC is a search engine based form of content advertising. People can pay to have their ranking on search engines prioritised. The amount of ‘clicks’ received as a result translates into the cost of such advertising.


Content Marketing Examples 2021

  1. Having a strong brand presence

Using certain colours, graphics, photo and editing styles builds a strong presence that attracts customers because of its memorability. For example, the brand Billie and its use of vibrant, pastel colours across its Instagram.


  1. Creating useful and educational resources

A good example is the blog ‘Into the Gloss’ attached to the brand ‘Glossier’. This blog contains many articles with inside knowledge and interviews on beauty, skin and haircare – all of which form Glossier’s product range. Other companies have even branched out into informative podcasts, like the company Deliciously Ella. Very often, these kinds of resources run email marketing campaigns to remind subscribers of new articles – creating a hugely valuable customer database.


  1. SEO

Another main difference between content marketing vs content advertising is the reliance of the former on SEO. SEO is different to the likes of PPC, as it enables better search rankings organically as a result of certain well-researched keywords throughout the chosen content.


Which method is better?

There are many other content advertising and content marketing ideas which exist, however the examples above should give you a pretty firm idea of their differences. In terms of which is better, this is a decision which is completely personal to each individual/business. These strategies can be useful for different kinds of product/service, and at different points in a company’s evolution. Start-ups notoriously rely on paid advertising to ‘get seen’ in the earlier stages when they are yet to achieve brand status. As for more established enterprises, organic advertising offers a cost-effective solution to increasing their reach and sales. Using both methods together can also prove very successful strategy!