You’re here, because you want to know the difference between native advertising and sponsored content. Sponsored content has existed for a long time now, starting off as advertorials, and paid posts on bloggers sites.

With the rise of BuzzFeed, who popularized and largely scaled the model, sponsored content has fallen in to the bucket, as a custom type of native ad.

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

  • 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, custom ads designed to fit within the site, i.e. a content hub on a publishers site. ย <- 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.

So it’s not one or the other, it’s that sponsored content is a type of native advertising. Here at Nudge we champion the term ‘’ to remove any ambiguity, you can read more about our guide to native content here.

How is it different to ?ย Context is what matters, when it’s on an owned property that the brand owns, it’s called branded content. Or if it’s a brand produced piece of content promoted through an ad network it’s often referred to as branded content.

The key difference is where the content resides and who produced it.