Traditional banner ads and skippable ads are fast losing their prominence as they can be skipped or closed within seconds. With low return on investment (ROI) to advertisers, these ads disrupt the viewing experience of the consumers too. Thus, marketers have found the new antidote to engage consumers in alternative paid ads — native advertising and sponsored content. While many use the two terms interchangeably, there is a big difference between the two.

What is native advertising?

In native advertising, ads are blended within the user’s feed in order to make them look more organic. Often irrelevant ads, that disrupt the user’s viewing experience aren’t received well. To get around that problem, Native ads are strategically sandwiched between content to look more relevant to users. For instance, Instagram and Facebook feed ads that appear between posts on the users home page.

While these ads do carry a ‘promoted’ or ‘advertisement’ tag to maintain transparency, they still have higher engagement as compared to other types of ads.

The success of native ads is undebatable, which is why over 90% of publishers offer space for native ad placements. These ads have a 53% more engagement rate and draw 18% higher purchase interest among consumers, as compared to display ads. Demographically, the younger generation in the age-group of 18-24 is more likely to engage with native ads than the older generations.


  • Deliver higher-click through rates through better customer targeting
  • Less expensive than traditional display ads
  • Since these ads are less intrusive, they enhance visibility among consumers


  • If the native ad content is not customized according to the target audience, it may have a negative effect
  • Native ads are best for increasing brand awareness and sales. They may not help in increasing website traffic
  • Clicking native ads redirects to marketers ads, which can be deceptive
  • Absence of standard labelling misleads consumers and can result in a negative attitude


What is sponsored content?

Sponsored content is a form of native advertising, where brand-sponsored videos and articles are rolled out by influencers on different social media platforms. The sponsored content is not directed at garnering clicks but to engage the audience, improve brand awareness, and increase conversions.

Unlike native ads, the content is developed to offer value, information or entertainment to the audience. The goal is to positively influence a customer’s perception of a brand rather than hard-selling a product or service. An influencer using a certain make-up brand in her make-up tutorial is an example of the sponsored content.

70% of individuals are willing to learn about products through content rather than traditional advertising. Another research shows that consumers spend nearly two-and-a-half minutes with a branded story, close to what they spend to consume editorial content.


  • High conversion ability as nearly 33% of millennials make a purchase after seeing a sponsored post about the purchase
  • Consumers are more receptive to sponsored content when it comes from their trusted influencers
  • Unlike display ads that vanish after the marketing campaign is over, sponsored content stays on a publisher’s platform, ensuring continuous engagement and visibility


  • Sponsored content demands a lot of time and creativity that makes it more expensive than other ad formats
  • Immeasurable performance as exact conversion rates cannot be tracked

Native advertising vs Sponsored content: What works for you?

There is no right answer to what will work for you. Both native advertising and sponsored content can play an important role in your digital marketing efforts. However, your decision will be driven by your ultimate goal and ad-spend budget. Here are some key takeaways that can help you in decision-making

  • Sales or brand perception: Native advertising is sales-oriented while sponsored content emphasises on building brand credibility.
  • Emotional response – Sponsored content triggers an emotional response from the viewers through compelling storytelling. It lends a voice to the brand by making people part of the journey and connecting them to the purpose. Native advertising, however, fails to achieve this aspect due to its marketing straightforwardness.
  • Advertisement budget: Sponsored content can claim a sizable portion of your advertising budget without guaranteeing sales whereas native advertising is aimed to produce sales that translate into ROI.
  • Response time: Audience response to native ads are almost immediate and measurable via click-through rates. However, sponsored content, though shareable, does not invoke an instant response in terms of sales conversions.
  • Business size and phase: Sponsored content holds more value when your business is new, upcoming, or launching a new product as it will set the stage by educating the target audience. Native advertising is suitable for already-established business houses or for existing products and services that customers have already consumed.


Final words

You can always integrate both ad formats within your marketing strategy to monetise from both of them. It will indeed be a wiser approach to engage your audience through storytelling and targeting them with native ads.

Our content marketing team at Anecdote Media can help you evaluate the best way forward for your business marketing needs. Contact us today to know how we can help you boost your revenues through our winning advertising campaigns.


Native Advertising Sponsored Content
Goal To influence viewers to click on an ad and lead them to buy To give the audience what they seek, earn their trust & create better brand recognition
Value to the audience No inherent value unless the viewer buys the product or service Providing value in the form of information, entertainment or tutorial is the primary objective of the content
Value to brand Generate results through sales Improves brand image and connects to people
Tone Salesy tone aimed to persuade viewers to buy Authentic and informative with a subtle reference to the brand.
Impact Short term measurable through sales or leads generated Long term as people become aware of the brand and can become consumers once the trust is established