Content Marketing vs Paid Ads

Content Marketing vs Paid Ads – A balanced approach for success


We all know you need to be active online to get ahead in today’s competitive business world. That doesn’t just mean having a website or setting up a social media account. Building an online presence requires a carefully-designed digital marketing strategy – something that 49% of today’s companies simply don’t have.

Perhaps one of the biggest things holding companies back from a solid marketing campaign is that there are so many different strategies out there that it’s hard to know which one is best. You have to understand the nuances of sub-genres of marketing like social media and PPC and consider whether you will go down a “paid” or “organic” route with your advertising.

In today’s article, we’re going to start exploring the full potential of marketing with a conversation about content marketing vs. paid ads.

What is Content Marketing?

Beyond traditional marketing strategies like ads and commercials, using a content strategy has several benefits. Here are a few reasons content marketing continues dominating the marketing industry.

Content is still king. In an ever-evolving digital era where more consumers leverage the internet to search, connect, engage and purchase, your content marketing strategy is critical today to reach your ideal customer.

Your content marketing is critical in growing your brand online as a business. It’s simply a must if you want to remain competitive.

The following shares precisely what content marketing is and why it’s so successful for businesses that leverage it.

Content marketing is a significant part of inbound marketing. However, Inbound marketing also makes use of marketing automation tools. According to Content Marketing Institute, content marketing is,

“…a strategic marketing and business process focused on creating and distributing valuable, relevant, and consistent content to attract and retain a clearly defined audience, and ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.”

In layman’s terms, content marketing is your process of consistently creating high-quality content that solves your market’s most pressing problems and challenges. This also includes sharing content that entertains, inspires, and educates.

Content creation, however, is just one piece of the puzzle. Content marketing also involves strategically getting your message in front of your ideal customer and moving them to action through your content.

These favorable actions mean clicking on your link, opting into your list, generating engagement such as comments and shares, and purchasing your product. The success of your content marketing strategy depends on how often you can drive these business behaviors that create measurable results for your business.

Apart from the question “what is content marketing?’, where did it come from, and why should it matter to you?

It’s easy to think of content marketing as one of the latest tactics in a marketing pro’s arsenal. However, the truth is that content has been around longer than you’d think. While the practice of content marketing as we know it today has skyrocketed thanks to the growth of various digital channels and the advancement of marketing automation, the first examples of “content marketing” appeared hundreds of years ago.

Since then, companies have been using written, recorded, and designed materials to engage and convert their customers ever-more frequently. Around 60% of marketers say they now create at least one piece of content daily.

What are Paid Ads?

Paid advertising is any form of marketing that you need to pay for. This means it’s different from owned marketing (things you already own, like your social channel or blog) and earned marketing (press releases, influencer shoutouts, etc.).

With paid advertising strategies, marketers offer money to the owner of certain sections of ad space in exchange for the opportunity to use that space. The price for the ad space is generally settled with a bidding process between the ad space owner and the marketer.

What are the Benefits of Paid Ads?

Effective marketing campaigns capitalize on various channels for advertising purposes. Although paid ads cost more than earned or owned advertising, they’re an effective way to earn brand awareness and exposure. Paid ads are generally displayed to users on the sides, bottoms, or tops of web pages, and you can pay more to have your ad shown on a page with excessive traffic.

There are plenty of reasons to invest in paid advertising, for instance:

  • Organic reach on social media is dropping: Since algorithm changes emerged to place friend and family-based posts over companies’ posts, organic reach on social media has declined. You’ll need to consider paid advertising to reach the top of Facebook.
  • Ads are affordable: Paid ads aren’t as expensive as you’d think. In most cases, you can set a daily spending limit to ensure you don’t exceed your budget for any specific ad. It’s totally up to you what you want to spend.
  • Paid ads are highly measurable: There are plenty of ways to track the performance of your paid ads, which means that you can keep going back and tweaking your strategy for better ROI.
  • Ads are simple: Paying for ads to show your product and services to your customers is easy, but working out the nuances of SEO and building a content marketing strategy can be hard – particularly if you’re not creative.
  • You can remarket: With paid advertising, you can gather information from people who have already shown interest in your brand and use that data to target the same customer again. Facebook remarketing makes reconnecting incredibly easy.

What Are Some Types of Paid Advertising?

Paid advertising comes in many different shapes and sizes. For instance, you can invest in CPM strategies, PPC, or retargeting campaigns. Here are just some of the most common and popular forms of paid advertising:

CPM Marketing

Cost per thousand or “CPM” marketing is a marketing strategy where you pay a flat rate for your ads every time you get a thousand impressions from your ad. An impression is the number of times the ad location displays your ad and leaves an “impression” on a user. This means that it doesn’t matter whether your ad was clicked or not.

CPMs are typically displayed ads – which means they are visual, but this isn’t always the case. This type of advertising is pretty inexpensive, and it guarantees that you’re going to get plenty of eyes on your content.

Pay Per Click

Pay per Click advertising, or PPC ads, are designed to draw clicks from your users. You pay for your ad placement every time someone clicks on one of your links. In other words, you don’t pay for anything if no one sees your ads or interacts with them. The click-through rate for an average paid ad is generally 2%. However, it can go up to 8% for highly-positioned paid ads.

The price you pay for your ads will depend on the marketplace value of the keyword or phrase that you want to rank for. Clicks are very straightforward to track, so it’s a great way to optimize your campaigns – and you only pay for the clicks you need.


Retargeting, or re-marketing, depending on what you prefer to call it, can be an incredibly effective form of marketing strategy. However, you need a decent amount of traffic to your website before making the most of this campaign.

Retargeting works by placing a cookie – or a small piece of code on the browser of the people who come to your website. This means you can anonymously follow that visitor around the web and display advertisements that remind them to come back and check out the products they were already looking at. Since it can take several impressions for a customer to convert, connecting with your audience as often as possible makes sense.

Display Ads

Finally, display ads or banner ads are a form of paid advertising intended to capture the attention of your target audience with visuals. Display ads are some of the oldest forms of paid advertising – they’ve been on the internet since the beginning.

Display ads can be a significant component of a paid advertising campaign, as images generally attract more attention than text. Additionally, a display ad has more online real estate to play with, so you can tell your customers more about your product or brand.

Content Marketing vs. Paid Ads

So, which is better, paid marketing or content marketing?

The simple answer is neither is the better choice.

Ultimately, the best marketing strategy depends on your specific needs. You need content marketing if you want a long-term approach to earning and keeping organic traffic. Paying to advertise might be the best way forward if you want to drive traffic and impressions quickly.

Many successful companies prefer to use a combination of paid and content marketing to help give them the most balanced strategy. Either way, the most important thing to remember is that you’ll need to track your campaigns to ensure that you’re getting the best results. The more you measure, the more you can optimize your strategy.

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