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Content Marketing, Branded Content & Sponsored Content: What’s the Difference?

Content Marketing | Feb 06, 2019

In today’s digital world, people are inundated with a myriad of ads and messages. As a result, businesses are struggling to get their content noticed by consumers. In 2018, up to 61% of people have a general disliking of website ads, and for video ads, it is even worse.

But put yourself in your consumers’ shoes — do you like to deal with a brand that is trying to reach out you in a vague or obnoxious way or do you like to interact with a brand that values you as an individual?

The answer is clear as day, and here lies the importance of content marketing. Traditional online advertising is quickly falling to the wayside. So, marketers should be turning to content marketing to reach their targeted consumers and engage personally, friendly, and in a transparent way.

The latest surveys conducted by Content Marketing Institute and launched in 2018 revealed that 74% of B2C content marketers and 70% of B2B content marketers indicated that their organization’s content marketing is much/somewhat more successful compared with one year ago.

Content Marketing Stats for 2019 - B2B Content Marketing Insight 2019 - B2C Content Marketing Insights 2019 - B2C and B2B Content Marketing Success - 2019 Content Marketing Institute's Data

B2C and B2B Content Marketing Success – 2019 Content Marketing Institute’s Data

Content Marketing Vs. Branded Content: What’s the Difference?

There are different kinds of content; some is designed particularly to sell products and boost revenue, while other pieces are devoted to something like education and entertainment. Branded content has become a divisive issue in the marketing industry. Is it advertising? Or is it a content marketing?

  • Content marketing focuses mainly on the product or service and the content is more rational and informative. ROI is more about lead generation and boosting sales than building a positive image of the brand.
  • Branded content is often associated with entertainment or education type content, such as creative video advertising, webinars, online courses, articles, etc. The purpose is to resonate with the consumer on an emotional level rather than focusing on the actual product. Branded content is a way of bringing emotion, and humanity to your business. It’s about building connections. With branded content, the marketing/advertising message is so subtle, it’s almost invisible. It’s a way for brands to engage with their audience, improve their reputation and build new relationships.

Branded Content Vs. Sponsored Content: What’s the Difference?

There is a simple way to differentiate between branded content and sponsored content. Two important questions to ask yourself: By whom do the content is produced and where is the content published?

Let’s talk more deeply in this regard…

  • Branded content tends to be produced in-house by the brand/business owner, while sponsored content is usually a collaborative effort between the brand and the publisher’s editorial staff.
  • Branded content exists on brand-owned properties (e.g. micro-sites, blogs or content hubs), while sponsored content is hosted on the publisher’s site.
  • Branded content reaches the brand’s audience, while the sponsored content reaches the publisher’s audience.
Branded Content, Sponsored Content, Native Ads & Guest Posts: What’s the Difference?

A Graph Shows the Differences Between Some of the Content-Focused Methods

Top Content Stats You Need to Know for 2019

  • Marketers ranked content development and website/SEO as the top two investment areas in 2019.
  • In 2018, 64% of B2C marketers and 61% of B2B marketers have increased their dependence on specific written digital content types (e.g., articles, blogs, ebooks) compared with one year ago.
  • The biggest trends in content this year are articles/blog posts, which ranked top of the most effective content for moving prospects through the funnel with a rate of 45%.
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.
  • 52% of marketers are currently using native ads/sponsored content, while 37% plan to use such methods within the next 12 months.
  • Using sponsored content—on websites other than their own is one of the most used paid content distribution methods by both B2C and B2B marketers in 2019.
  • Creating brand awareness, build credibility/trust, and educate audiences are the top three goals have achieved by using content marketing in 2018.
Percentage of Marketers Using or Planning to Use Native Ads/Sponsored Content for their Marketing Strategy Use Native Ads and Sponsored Content Stats 2019 - Salesforce

Percentage of Marketers Using or Planning to Use Native Ads/Sponsored Content for their Marketing Strategy

To be crystal clear, all of the previously mentioned content-focused methods have productive uses in the business to a varying degree. But the key questions here are how are they related? and how do you know when to use each one? This is the big challenge; to tailor and personalize content and tools that deliver timely and seamlessly to each customer at the moments when they need it.

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