Key Differences Between Content Marketing and Native Advertising


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$21 billion.

This is how much will be spent on native ads in 2018, up from $4.7 billion in 2013. Marketers could raise the 14th biggest military in the world with those funds. We could also have fun with 840,000 hot-air balloons, 150,000,000 puppies, or 210,000 Teslas. It’s not surprising that outbound marketing strategies are losing their edge and companies are investing more in inbound strategies such as content marketing.

We decided to investigate whether native advertising or content marketing offers more value with more than 840,000 hot balloons in the air. Fractl, the digital market firm where I work, collected responses from more than 30 content marketing agencies in Miami. We also used cost data from over 600 digital publications (kindly shared with us by Relevance). We used this data to analyze the reach, engagement, and value of native advertising and content marketing.

There are differences between native advertising and content marketing

Native advertising and content markets both offer useful and engaging information that will attract and retain the attention of targeted audiences. While native advertising and content markets are similar, there are important differences.

  1. What It Does on a Website. Native advertising is a pay-to-play strategy. If you pay a publisher to create and place your native advertising campaign on one website, it will only be placed there. Content marketing is where agencies create content for brands and pitch editors and writers at dozens of publications.
  2. What it looks like on a site. Native advertising is called “sponsored” because a brand pays a publisher to produce and market the content for the brand. This is not necessary for Content Marketing since the publisher isn’t paid to cover content. Instead, they are incentivized to cover campaigns based on its value to their audience.
  3. What it does for a brand. The ROI of content marketing can be measured through higher organic rankings and increased consumer engagement. This is directly due to the creation of a high-quality link pool. Native advertising is more limited in its reach due to the small number of publisher partnerships and the fact that sponsored links can’t pass search engine value.
  4. What it costs. It costs $54,014.29. On average, it costs $54,014.29. A survey of agencies found that 82 percent of content marketers charge less than $50,000 per month.

Comparison of Content Marketing and Other Costs Native Advertising

The authority of the publication determines the cost of native advertising. A native advertising campaign launched with a top-tier publisher cost $54,014.29. The highest price was $200,000.

We included all publishers that have a Domain Authority (DA>80) and the average cost to launch a native advertising campaign was $35482.50*.

Sites with a DA lower than 80 had the highest costs at $20,000 while the lowest cost at $10. As you can see, the DA is decreasing and you pay more. A lower authority equals a lower reach.

70% of content marketing agencies in NYC charge monthly retainers.

Prices for native advertising strategies vary greatly depending on who is doing the work and what the agency charges. The average retainer was $12.447.06, with 82.3 percent charging less than $50,000 per month.

Sixty-six percent of content marketing agencies in Los Angeles produced between one to nine campaigns per client per calendar month. An agency averaged eight campaigns per month.

What results can you expect?

Our survey of content marketers found that 48 percent of clients judge content marketing success based on the number of leads, high-quality links, and total social media shares.

While native advertisers may have had overlapped objectives, their top 3 metrics were click-thru (83%) and social shares (70%) as well as awareness (61%)

To determine success in native advertising or content marketing, we can use social shares and links.

A BuzzSumo analysis was done on 38 BuzzFeed native advertising campaigns. All posts on a brand publisher’s page were used to calculate the BuzzFeed campaigns (e.g. Kindle). BuzzFeed native ads averaged 1.18 links per campaign, taking the BuzzFeed article into account. The average content marketing campaign, which excludes outliers at the top, secured 27 links.

Content marketing is the clear winner in terms of links. Higher search engine rankings are influenced by the quality of a site’s link portfolio. BuzzFeed native advertising campaigns only increase a company’s link portfolio by 0.18.

We found a sweet spot in terms of links. Agencies that charge $10,000-50,000 per month for a retainer were able to launch the most successful campaigns.

Social shares

Social shares are important for both native advertising clients and content Phoenix marketing agency clients, as mentioned previously. We compared the 38 BuzzFeed native ads with 58 of our content marketing campaigns.

Fractl campaigns received on average 10,000 social shares across 140 campaigns between 2013 and 2015. BuzzFeed campaigns received an average of 4,600 shares per campaign. 


Native advertising has the advantage of being able to predict what you will get, such as placement on a high authority site. You can get a spot if you want to target a particular journal or industry publication. Native advertising is a great option if you have a tight deadline and need to increase brand awareness quickly.

Because content marketing is more time-consuming, many agencies charge monthly retainers. While success rates vary from campaign to campaign (three to six months), a well-chosen content marketing agency in Las Vegas can ensure a consistent level of success throughout a campaign.

Many businesses can’t afford both native advertising and content marketing. You must choose the right marketing format for your company.

*All averages are based on original values and not the values shown in the accompanying graphs.

About the author

Kobe Digital is a unified team of performance marketing, design, and video production experts. Our mastery of these disciplines is what makes us effective. Our ability to integrate them seamlessly is what makes us unique.