Content marketing is only getting more popular, and there’s a good chance you’ve already got a strategy in place.
If not, now’s the time to change that.
But while content marketing gets a lot of attention, you might also hear about paid content distribution.
It’s becoming an increasingly common tactic, even if it tends to complement content marketing rather than replace it entirely.
Let’s have a deeper look at what paid content distribution (or content advertising) involves and how you can use it in your own marketing.
What Content Advertising Is NOT
Content marketing is NOT native advertising.
That’s a common misconception, and it’s an easy mistake to make. And while some people refer to native advertising as content advertising, the two are actually quite different.
At a push, native advertising could be considered a type of content advertising. But for the purposes of this blog, let’s consider them as separate techniques.
It’s also not content marketing. Again, it’s easy to get confused because content advertising is a form of marketing. But the two are very different.
So what is it then?
What Content Advertising IS
Content advertising involves creating content that you then promote using paid distribution channels.
This is according to this excellent post in Wordstream, which goes into detail on the topic.
So, while with content marketing your primary aim is to get your content discovered organically and shared over social media, with content advertising you are using paid channels to get your content in front of your audience.
These channels typically involve using paid social, but you could also run a PPC campaign.
The goal is to target a specific audience with your ads to encourage them to access your content in return for getting them into your sales funnel.
Which Type of Content Works Best?
The first question you’ll probably have is what type of content you should be spending your money promoting.
The answer is: Your best stuff.
It could be anything, but you should probably veer towards long-form content that provides specific and genuine value to the people you are targeting.
That typically means white papers, reports, and original research, but it could also mean webinars, videos, or anything else that provides your targets with a reason to give you their email address in order to access it.
Quality Is Key (As Always)
There is no argument that quality needs to be high when you engage in content marketing. If you don’t produce valuable content on a consistent basis, who’s going to read it, let alone share it and link to it?
With content advertising, however, you don’t need shares and links. You are not relying on others to promote your content because you’re doing that yourself.
But that doesn’t mean the quality should be any lower. As with all things content, quality is always an essential factor.
Just as low-quality content will fall flat and fail to get shared and read as part of your content marketing efforts, it will also fail to get results when you are advertising it.
The quality still needs to be high and the content still needs to provide value—otherwise it will be ignored and you will be wasting your advertising dollars (as well as the time it takes to create the content in the first place).
And then there’s the small matter that you can still hurt your brand with low-quality content and turn potential customers away.
The fact is that from the consumer’s point of view, content advertising looks like content marketing. They don’t care how your content is getting in front of them, whether they search online or see it appear in their social media feed.
They might not even notice that you are advertising it at all. But they will care about the quality.
Why Use Content Advertising?
There are many good reasons to use content advertising as part of your online marketing strategies.
First of all, it’s quicker. While content marketing usually relies on organically ranking your content, this takes time. Sometimes a lot of time. Getting your content before the right people by advertising it is an effective shortcut.
Also, with content marketing, the rules constantly change for ranking your content. But content advertising allows you to bypass this.
While SEO should be part of any online marketing strategy, it’s also a good idea not to rely on it for everything. With content advertising, you don’t need to make your content discoverable. You don’t need to worry about SEO at all. You just need to create content that is interesting to your audience and find the right distribution channel.
Because you’re not relying on SEO, you can also reuse your content. There is nothing to stop you taking your best blog posts or e-books and reusing them in a new guide, which will save you time creating new content.
It is also a great time to advertise on social media, which is becoming an increasingly popular option for marketers. With content advertising, you can target your content precisely so you choose exactly who you want to see it.
This means you can really target the topics you want to—topics that may be too niche to succeed organically.
As with any marketing techniques, there are disadvantages too. For a start, you have to create valuable content in the first place, and this is always a challenge—especially if you want to produce it consistently.
In addition, your reach may be limited by your budget. The customer journey is longer when you use content in your marketing, and your audience is not typically buying straight away. Content marketing conversion funnels are longer, so you may end up spending a lot of money on your ads.
Experiment with Content Advertising
Content advertising could prove effective for your business. If you already have a content marketing strategy up and running, why not add content advertising to the mix?
As with any type of online marketing, the key is to experiment. Social media advertising is a fantastic resource for marketers, and content can be the perfect way to advertise your business.
Just make sure you have real business objectives before going in, whether that is to increase leads or qualify your existing leads further.
Then try it out for yourself and see whether you can make content advertising work for your business.