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Archeived blog: is content marketing the new advertising?

Posted: December 6, 2016

Blog post: is content marketing the new advertising?

The answer: not exactly

Content marketing is a new buzzword, but not a new concept.  To understand difference between content marketing and advertising, we need to understand the purpose and context of each of these marketing tactics.


Print, radio, TV and web advertising are dependable ways to promote your company to a range of audiences using purchased space on channels (such as print publications or TV and radio programs) that are already delivering engaging and relevant content to a target group.

What’s it good for?  Explicit promotion, to an already well-defined audience; raising brand awareness.

What are its limitations?  Advertising typically has a short shelf-life.  Advertising can influence snap decision making through the power of suggestion, or raise brand awareness through a concerted ad campaign, but is limited in the amount of information it can immediately provide to a potential buyer.

Content marketing

Effective content marketing extends the traditional reach of advertising by providing potential customers (or a “defined target audience”) with timely, relevant and valuable information that they might actively seek out, keep, and share with others of their own accord.

What exactly does this mean?  It means that you’re creating content (such as articles, books, video or images that your potential customer wants to consume.  Content marketing blurs the line between ads that are promoted within content pieces (such as magazines, or during commercial breaks)  and the content used to attract that audience.

What’s it good for?  Although content pieces typically don’t have a direct sales call to action, they raise credibility with a target audience and can influence over the long term. Effective content pieces also have the potential for self-promotion (since the information has value to the reader, who will likely want to share that value with like-minded people).

What are its limitations? Content marketing can be incredibly persuasive, especially over the long term. However, not every organization has the capacity to create high-value and relevant content every time.

In many cases, businesses will create content that is valuable to their entire potential customer base, but only available to their existing audience (for example on social media or in an email database).  In these cases, it may be necessary to promote a content piece using more traditional forms of advertising, without abandoning the “soft-sell” storytelling approach indicative of content marketing.  

The stuff in between

For companies hoping to promote their brand using a content marketing approach, but are in need of the audience reach provided by advertisers, there are a few options.

1. Advertorials

Advertorials (a portmanteau of advertisement and editorial) are similar to traditional ads, but follow the same style as the content pieces contained within in a publication or a program.

This type of ad is usually subtly marked as an advertisement, but is less distinguishable from editorial content than traditional ads.

2. Sponsored content

Similar to an advertorial, sponsored content allows businesses to buy space for a content piece in an existing media publication or program, but requires more active participation with the editorial staff of that publication to assure that the content meets some editorial requirements.

This type of content is usually marked as sponsored and provides editorial value to the content’s consumer.

3. Partnerships

Partnerships, similar to sponsorship can be effective in both creating and promoting high-quality content (marketing) pieces.  In a partnership situation, all entities involved can focus on bringing value to a target audience using their particular skill set.

For example, the Ottawa Business Journal has partnered with Ottawa-based organizations to create publications including the Ottawa Business Growth Survey (in partnership with the Ottawa Chamber of Commerce and Welch LLP) and the BOMA (Ottawa) Commercial Space Directory.

Partnerships are particularly effective at creating high-quality, valuable content, and maximize that content’s promotion by drawing on the networks and audiences of all of the involved partners.


Interested in connecting with Ottawa’s business community?

We offer a number of advertising and content marketing (including sponsored content and partnership) opportunities through the Ottawa Business Journal and OBJ360⁰.  To learn more, check out our content marketing and advertising services!