Reading Time: 3 minutes
The words "Content vs Paid" and person at a laptop computer

It is said that the average individual sees between 6,000 and 10,000 ads per day. Even though only a quarter of those may be relevant to the individual, it still sounds like an extremely high number, right? Well, let’s think about everything we consume in a day. We search Google 3+ times per day and we are also exposed to most of the following: social media, TV, radio, podcasts, streaming services, print media, billboards, etc. So, it’s obvious that businesses have several ways to create and distribute information to consumers about their product or service. Two of the most common strategies to do so are by using content marketing and/or paid advertising.

Let’s look at some of the differences, benefits, and examples between content marketing and paid advertising.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is any form of marketing that is centered around creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online. Businesses often use this strategy to take advantage of the following benefits: raise brand awareness, generate leads and conversions, boost credibility within their industry, create loyal brand ambassadors, and to increase consumer engagement. 91% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers are incorporating content marketing into their overall strategy. Although content marketing is a lower cost option than paid advertising, and the goal is to grow things organically, it is a long game and businesses should not expect immediate results.

These are some of the content marketing tactics we employ at A3 Media:

  • Publish two weekly blog articles
  • Publish weekly video content
  • Publish daily social media content on 9+ pages
  • Share industry related posts with commentary on social media pages
  • Publish client case studies
Paid Advertising

Paid advertising is any form of advertising that a marketer or company pays for. Most may think of digital and social media ads when they hear the term paid advertising, and that is what we are going to focus on here, but don’t forget there are traditional options like TV, radio, print, and out of home, which can be very helpful and also be included in the paid advertising category

One of the differences of paid ads compared to content marketing is there is no waiting to find your customers organically. Things move much faster, advertisers are specifically targeting their audience and then paying to reach them. Some benefits include the following: it’s measurable, provides fast results, predictable returns, expands brand reach, and it builds a strong social presence. It’s important to remember that paid advertising will always require a budget to run the ads, it will also require time spent analyzing data and measuring the results.

Here are a few of the more common types of paid advertising used by many companies including A3 Media:

  • Social Media Ads  
  • Search Engine Result Ads
  • Display Ads on websites 
  • Retargeting Ads to web visitors
  • Video Ads / CTV and OTT
Which is Best for My Business? Content Marketing or Paid Advertising?

The simple answer is both! Your business should be utilizing both strategies. For many businesses content marketing is a more cost-effective option, especially when the goal is expanding your audience. Brands want to publish content to establish their voice as an industry expert, boost their SEO, and make their business a reliable resource that consumers will trust in the future.

With paid advertising, there are more options for specific audience targeting. Things like creating customer personas and targeted ads based on demographics and search history are common practice. The focus is more on seeing the highest return on investment (ROI). Decision makers want to be shown how far their marketing dollars will go and exactly what they will get back. A Google Economic Impact Report found that businesses make an average of $2 in revenue for every $1 they spend on Google Ads.

Those in a B2B industry may lean towards using content marketing as an effective way to get their name or brand out there as opposed to those in a B2C industry, who rely on customers to find them by searching for what they need. The bottom line is paid advertising can create some direct results and get your product or service in front of your desired audience in the quickest way. Businesses also need content marketing to tell their story and provide useful information. People don’t always want to be sold to, sometimes they want to just gather information and educate themselves before making a commitment. In the end, it’s a mix of both strategies that will likely provide the best results for your business. The more lead sources the better!

Written by:
Bob Freas
Social Media Specialist

Reading Time: 3 minutes
confused businessman facing wall

US Programmatic display advertising spends continue to grow, but do you really know what you’re getting for your advertising dollars?

A3 Media has a traffic and accounting department intensely focused on verifying every media buy placed for our clients are delivered in full. But we are never content, constantly researching options and potential pitfalls. If your media buying agency isn’t constantly looking for better and more efficient options, should they be your media buyer?

We recently completed an audit of a client’s programmatic campaign and found the pacing to be flawless. A series of 30-day campaigns delivered a consistent daily average of impressions that were evenly distributed throughout day.

The urge was to dig a little deeper, so we set out to test restricted hourly delivery over a short test period and found the results to be anything but unacceptable. Without letting our national DSP know, we set up a seven-day test to monitor pacing. This test was agency funded; no client advertising dollars were used.

We started with a very small test budget, an extremely focused geographic footprint, and some dayparting. Sounds reasonably simple right? WRONG!

Our test delivery was to be restricted to a six-hour window. Almost immediately we uncovered flawed dayparting algorithms. With solid results from previous campaign audits, we anticipated an average hourly delivery of approximately 17% of the total daily impressions. After allowing the campaign to run for two full 24-hour cycles we found 100% of the daily delivery in the first hour of the six-hour window. Hmm? Unless there is a specific reason to do so, reaching your entire target audience in one hour is in no one’s best interest!

When questioned, after the usual volley of emails, phone calls, and explanations that just didn’t add up the matter was turned over to the DSP’s CTO for further investigation. The explanation was not acceptable.

We were informed our test scenario uncovered a flaw the DSP was unaware of. They claimed no other agency had previously used or tested dayparted delivery. Really? Huh? While we found that hard to believe, maybe the answer was no other agency was checking hourly pacing and only checking total impressions.

However, within 72 hours the DSP recoded their delivery metrics to accommodate evenly paced hourly daypart targeting. We tested it again and it was working properly. The question is, did they know all along and just wanted to make sure they could clear the money everyday or are other agencies just accepting results and not challenging their vendors?

In either event, the answer isn’t good.

This year, 2022 is projected to see more than $96.5 billion in programmatic display advertising. For DSPs and most agencies this is a win, they’ll get paid as soon as your ad is delivered.

But shouldn’t you know your advertising agency truly has your back and are working as hard as you are for your business?

One would think so…or hope so!