In our Branded Content and Native Advertising Glossary we define each.

Native advertising, describes the overall trend of creating advertising that is designed to fit the form and function of the site it resides on.

Sponsored content, similar to paid content, describes content that has been paid for by a brand. Content may or may not be directly related to the brand.

You would say Sponsored Content is a type of Native Advertising, colloquially it may also be referred to as a piece  of Branded Content. Native Advertising also refers to different types of advertising units, such as responsive display, which promote content. However both are forms of Native Advertising.

Under the IAB native ad guidelines, there are four main types of native advertising:

  • Infeed units, ads designed to fit in the flow of content, i.e. Facebook promoted post.
  • Paid search units, ads designed to look similar to search results, i.e. Google Adwords.
  • Recommendation units, ads that look like content links under an article, i.e. OutBrain.
  • Promoted listings, ads (often on ecommerce sites) with promoted views.
  • In-Ad, hard to describe.
  • Custom/Can’t be contained, branded content designed to fit within the site, i.e. a content hub on a publishers site.  <- this is where sponsored content has grown

It’s this last one, that sponsored content has grown as a bucket, it’s been a way for publishers to bundle sponsored content as part of native campaigns but also for technology solutions to grow. Kind of a catch all phrase really.

So it’s not one or the other, it’s that sponsored content is a type of native advertising.


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