The short answer: Native advertising is an advertising format whilst content marketing is a marketing technique.
...The long answer:
Even though native advertising and content marketing are two different things, it is common, even amongst professionals, to use these terms interchangeably. The reason for this is probably that both native advertising and content marketing share a common philosophy: The idea that good marketing should be less intrusive and more focused on pull than push.
So what is native advertising?
Native advertising is an advertising format used to distribute content. Per definition the format is ‘native’ and will have the same look and feel as the medium the ad appears on. Yes, this means that you can find native advertising almost anywhere (and not only on news sites). Google Adwords is a native format in your Google search results, sponsored posts on Linkedin and Facebook are native advertising posts, as is of course a featured article on a publisher site.
So, what makes something native is that it fits the surrounding context. However, great native advertising is also focused on delivering great content. The content behind the ad should be as qualitative as any other content on the medium it appears on. But that’s another story.
So what is content marketing?
Content marketing is a marketing technique built on the idea that you should create valuable content that engages your audience. Instead of pushing out your message, this technique goes the other way around: You focus on engagement to earn the attention of the audience. Content marketing can be integrated into all of your marketing channels.
Can you combine content marketing and native advertising?
Yes! Native advertising should be a part of your content marketing strategy. It is a great way distribution channel and can help you find an audience for your great content. The native format performs best with great content, as you can see in this example of great native ads and their click-through rate.
Leo Heijbel, Head of Marketing at Strossle