Forgive the content marketer author the initial Austin Powers gif and stay for the concise definitions of each type of paid content and a great Venn Diagram about how they relate. The piece digs deeper into distinctions that read like a well-informed Q&A.
Here’s how I define those four terms:
Branded content: A synonym for content marketing: “The use of storytelling to build relationships with consumers by providing them with something entertaining or useful.”
Brand journalism: An incredibly confusing term specially designed to piss off Jeff Jarvis, Copyranter, and other industry watchdogs. It’s used—incorrectly—by many brands that start a blog and want to play journalist. The term should be restricted to brands that sponsor editorially independent journalism—think T Mobile’s Electronic Beats or… yeah, that’s the only good example I can think of. And that’s the problem. Right now, brand journalism doesn’t really exist.
Native advertising: An umbrella term for ads that mirror the environment they appear in. Google search ads are the granddaddy of digital native advertising, and in-feed Facebook ads are the most lucrative type of native advertising today.
Sponsored content: In the media industry, native advertising is often used synonymously with sponsored content. However, the two terms are not synonymous. Sponsored content is just one type of native advertising—the brand-sponsored articles and videos that appear on the sites and social platforms of publishers and influencers.