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Paid content terms and definitions

Q&A that defines key terms and answers common questions about paid content.

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.