Branded, Sponsored, Native — What’s the Difference?
Branded content, sponsored content, native advertising, advertorial, blog, SEO content – how much do these definitions and content-delivery practices overlap?
As of this writing (March 2015), there are no universally accepted definitions of these terms, and even the large media companies are tossing these terms around in direct opposition to each other. Based on my readings of media articles that attempt to define this evolving style of marketing and how I’ve seen these terms used, here’s my quick cheat sheet as to how these terms and phrases differ from each other:
Brand Content – Any content intended to support a company’s brand, which is an image based on a unique selling differential, company expertise/authority, or a feeling the business is trying to evoke (safety, reliability, luxury, etc.).
Branded Content – Content created and owned by a company and delivered via the company’s own distribution streams (newsletter, magazine, blog, tweets, Facebook posts, Vines, Instagrams, etc.).
Some people use “branded content” broadly to cover all forms of brand content.
Sponsored Content – Content that’s paid for by a marketer and resides on a second party’s platform, but is not intended to look like the second-party’s regular editorial content. The content includes a disclosure statement that a someone has paid to be associated with the content.
The advertiser may or may not have anything to do with the creation or direction of the editorial, graphics or layout. Some publishers and marketers are currently using the term “sponsored content” interchangeably with or instead of “native advertising.”
Native Advertising – Content that’s paid for by a marketer and resides on a second party’s platform, but is intended to look like the second-party’s regular editorial content. The content includes a disclosure statement that someone has paid to be associated with the content.
The second-party media company creates the copy/text, but the marketer guides the general direction of the information covered. Some people use this term interchangeably with or instead of “sponsored content.”
Advertorial – A paid display ad, owned and created by the advertiser, that is intended to look like editorial or a story, but is not intended to look like or pass for the regular or “real” editorial of a second-party media outlet’s publication or website.
Blog – A regular series of posts on a broad or narrow topic, created by a person or organization. The company that owns the blog creates the content (using staff, a freelancer or a content broker), owns the content and owns the blog platform.
SEO Content – Content that’s created to attract visitors, either to get them to generate pay-per-click or affiliate revenue, or to get them more involved with or aware of a company’s brand, products or services.