Advertising vs. Content Marketing

Source: Buddy Media

Quick question – what’s the difference between advertising and content marketing?

According to Wikipedia:

  • Advertising is a form of communication used to encourage or persuade an audience to continue or take some new action… the desired result is to drive consumer behaviour with respect to a commercial offering.
  • Content marketing – an umbrella term encompassing all marketing formats that involve the creation and sharing of content in order to engage current and potential consumer bases.

At all of the events I attended during Social Media Week, there seemed to be a growing divide between those on team advertising and those on team content. It’s an important discussion, and one that should be had by any organization that wants to remain relevant to today’s Internet users. The ‘average’ web user in 2012 is technologically savvy, resourceful and unwilling to like or follow something for the sake of winning a contest. Their loyalty is conditional – they want to be engaged and included in discussions about the things that matter to them.

From the advertiser’s perspective, this new breed of Internet users calls for an emphasis on social design. Social experiences will be put first and foremost in campaigns, with complete digital integration being a must. After all, in order to succeed, marketers need to be where their target consumer is, and that person is online.

For content creators, instead, this is a call for more authenticity. Quality content is the stuff that talks with consumers and not just at them; it’s the stuff that doesn’t have to go viral to be considered successful because it will continue to resonate with its audience more than any cat video ever will. For companies serious about putting fans first, the focus should be on generating interest-centred content that will spur user engagement and build credibility (à la Red Bull – they recently madeFast Company’s 50 Most Innovative Companies list) as opposed to advertiser’s brand-centred content.

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