Sponsored content and native advertising may have once been the proverbial red-headed stepchild of the content world, but those days are long gone. Today, most brands are embracing the power of native advertising and sponsored content (as well as their relative branded content). In fact, Inc. reported that nearly three-quarters of publishers and media outlets have published some type of sponsored content.

But are you left wondering just what native advertising and sponsored content actually is? We’ve got you covered. Native advertising/sponsored content is, putting it simply, content that is in line with a site’s editorial standards but is paid content from an outside advertiser.

Native advertising and sponsored content allow media outlets to become more of a platform for sponsored content, rather than one for cheesy, in-your-face advertisements like banner ads, which, let’s face it, simply don’t work. There’s also an opportunity for marketers to reinvent themselves as niche publishers and publishing partners using sponsored content, native ads, or both. (Read more on that from CSR Founder and CEO Colleen Jones here.)

Yet with sponsored content and native ads also comes the credibility question: How will publishing these types of content affect your content’s credibility, and more importantly, your readership’s opinion of you? And we can’t talk credibility without addressing “fake news.” How did sponsored content play a part in the meteoric rise of this politically-charged buzzword?

Learn more about sponsored content and native ads–and how they affect content’s future–in our fact sheet below.

Nearly three-quarters of publishers and media outlets have published sponsored content. – Inc.


70% of consumers said they would rather learn about a product or service through content rather than traditional advertising. -Content Marketing Institute, ‘Is Native Advertising the New Black?’


Spend on native advertising is expected to quadruple this year.  – Inc.


Implemented poorly, sponsored content and native advertising could weaken the credibility of publishers and brands. -Content Science Review


Native ad revenue is expected to make up 74% of total ad revenue in the U.S. by 2021, and native ad spending will reach $21 billion by 2018. – Business Insider


More than 50% of consumers who click on native advertising do so with the intention of purchasing, compared to 34% of those who click on banner ads. -Inc.


82% – brand lift generated by native ads among users.               -Nielsen


For marketers, native advertising could be a more effective way to reach potential customers, while sponsored content has the potential to supplement social media revenue.               -Content Science Review


45.4% of consumers polled said native advertising is a type of advertising that’s more relevant to them. -HubShout


By 2020, 63.2% of mobile display advertising is expected to be native, making up $53.4 billion in advertising revenue.         -IHS Markit


People are spending more time online than ever, thanks to the proliferation of mobile devices. People want content, not ads, online.” -Colleen Jones, Content Science Review

Some experts point to an association between native advertising and the rise of “fake news.” A recent study found that 37% of brand advertisers weren’t complying with the Federal Trade Commission’s new rules on disclosure. –MediaRadar


The usage of the term fake news increased by a staggering 365% since 2016. -Business Insider


64% of adults in the U.S. say fake news stories create confusion about the facts of current events and issues, while 23% say they have shared a ‘fake news’ story on social media, whether knowingly or not. -Pew Research Center



Most consumers can’t distinguish between native content and an editorial article, a Contently study found.


That also brings us to influencer content, which has grown exponentially in recent years. In fact, 7 out of 10 U.S. agency and marketing professionals advertise in influencer videos now, and 43% said they expected to spend more on the format in 2019. And, by 2022, the influencer marketing industry could be worth up to $15 billion, up from as much as $8 billion in 2019. But advertisers need to be careful. The Federal Trade Commission is concerned that “fake accounts, fake likes, fake followers, and fake reviews are now polluting the digital economy, making it difficult for families and small businesses looking for truthful information.”

The Author

Content Science partners with the world’s leading organizations to close the content gap in digital business. We bring together the complete capabilities you need to transform or scale your content approach. Through proprietary data, smart strategy, expert consulting, creative production, and one-of-a-kind products like ContentWRX and Content Science Academy, we turn insight into impact. Don’t simply compete on content. Win.

Last Updated: March 16, 2021

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