Content Marketing vs Native Advertising

  • 86% businesses now leverage content marketing in one form or another
  • 70% audience want to learn about products via content instead of direct advertisement
  • More than 67% clients ask their content marketing agencies about native advertising

Outbound and Interruption Marketing is losing its sheen in favor of Content Marketing and Native Advertising. Though they seem similar but there is quite a difference between the two forms of marketing. This article will help you understand the difference between Content Marketing and Native Advertising.


What is Content Marketing?

Content Marketing is a marketing approach that involves creating valuable and useful non-promotional content by brands. The important part in the first sentence is “valuable and “useful”. Self-serving and promotional content cannot be placed in the content marketing bucket: Value-add is the only secret.

Goals of Content Marketing:

The goals for content marketing can be broadly categorized as follows:

Different Forms of Content Marketing

Content Marketing can be done in varied formats but some of the key ones are discussed here.

  • Videos are one of the most engaging form of content on the web. The consumer web video traffic is expected to reach ~80% by 2019-2020. For a long time, video marketing was considered a game for the big brands. But off late, this trend has been broken with small businesses and startups leveraging the medium to showcase excellent meaningful content. OYO Rooms launched a video on the occasion of Independence Day that garnered more than 3 lakh views in a couple of days. The Madras Song by Murugappa Group was launched as a tribute to the city of Madras on the occasion of Madras Week. The video stole the limelight during the 375th year celebrations of Madras.
  • Blogs are an excellent way to build an engaged audience, showcase your company as an industry thought-leader and the same time boost search engine rankings. According to a recent Hubspot Survey, regularly blogging boosts lead generation by ~126%. It also provides fresh, unique content to your website that is an important factor considered in Google search rankings.
  • Infographics are graphics that showcase long content in a visual and interesting manner. Our brain absorbs and process visuals faster than any other form of content. Hence, infographics as a form of content can be a great way to showcase information and make your blog more engaging.
  • Slideshares and Case Studies are another fascinating form of content marketing. These are more suggested for B2B businesses. Companies are looking out for specific information and if your case study or a Slide Share can help fit into the gap, you will gain a relevant mindspace among your potential customers.
  • Relevant and Informative Social Media Content can go a long way to help create an engaged community of potential customers. Innovative and clutter-breaking content can help your brand quickly carve out a niche on social media. Petwish – a startup in the pet food space, did an interesting content series around different dog breeds in India. The content quickly became viral among the pet lovers across India, which was an excellent audience for the brand.
  • Podcasts or audio telecasts are possibly one of the most underrated content marketing tactics. It gives you access and visibility to a different set of audience – who are tuned to short content in a format where they can multitask “on the go”. For example, a motivational podcast while on the way to office in the morning or solid investment advice from an avid investor that will help you plan your investment strategy for the coming week.

Metrics to track the effectiveness of Content Marketing:

  • Number of shares and likes
  • Number of backlinks/mentions to your content
  • Number of leads

Tips for an effective content marketing strategy:

  • Identify the needs of your target audience
  • Create 10x content – make it better and more thorough than anyone out there
  • User-generated content needs to be a part of your content strategy
  • Content Amplification is important – creating content alone won’t help until it reaches the right audience
  • It’s a long term game so do not expect quick-fire results


What is Native Advertising?

Native Advertising is a form of paid advertising where the content put out seems similar to the native content of the platform. You would have come across one or the other form of native advertising daily – while reading an e-newspaper, browsing through an ecommerce portal or on your favorite Google Search Engine. According to Business Insider, The global native advertising spend is estimated to cross $21 billion by the year 2018.

Goals of Native Advertising

  • Increase brand / product awareness
  • Supplement Content Marketing in amplification
  • Drive traffic to your website or landing page
  • Boost lead generation and Sales

Different Forms of Native Advertising

  • Content Recommendations are one of the most prominent form of native advertising. You would have seen sections at the end of news articles under the title “Recommended Articles” powered by recommendation engines. These native ads are done via platforms like Outbrain, Taboola and Content.Ad.
  • Influencer Marketing is a rapidly growing form of native advertising. Under this, the influencers and bloggers talk about your brand or product on their blogs or social media channels with a backlink to your online property. The articles are seeded along with the other articles on the blog.
  • Search Engine Ads are those that surface on top of your search results. This form turns out cheaper than the other forms of native advertising, based on the cost per lead or sale.
  • In-Feed Ads are presented within the list of natural articles from the publication. Though these ads are well-blended within the native experience of the reader on the platform but they are marked as sponsored ads for the benefit of the customer.
  • Promoted Listings are the product listings that show up on top of the category page on ecommerce websites.

Metrics to track in Native Advertising

  • Reach or Impressions
  • Clicks or Traffic to your website/landing page
  • Leads or Sales
  • Cost per Click
  • Cost per Lead

Tips for Native Advertising

  • Create separate landing pages for different native ad ideas. The hook to get people on your landing page and the content on the page need to speak the same story.
  • Research your audience well to create and experiment with multiple hooks to see what works well for your audience.
  • Make it interesting. Only bragging about the brand doesn’t work anymore. Show the content and convince the reader that you are the one who can deliver the experience or service to the user.
  • Do not shy away from allocating a good budget for this to show results. The cost per lead or sale from native advertising is traditionally higher from content marketing.
  • If SEO is a prime goal for your experimentation with Native Advertising, then you should pause it immediately. There is no SEO takeaway from this exercise.


Content Marketing To Make Your Brand Trend

Content is any brand’s most powerful weapon which can be used to fulfill marketing and branding objectives. A strategic approach towards creating and distributing content creatively can attract customers and propel them to take the desired action. While all brand managers are aware of this mantra and are working towards it, how can you differentiate your brand amongst the rest and make it trend?


Here are some interesting content marketing tips to make your brand famous and captivate your audience:


While most brands that fall under the same industry or category have similar social media strategy, the one who thinks differently always reaps better results. Having a fresh perspective towards generic concepts can help in delivering content that interests the user and eventually improves your organic reach and engagement.

To quote an example, Planet SuperHeroes came up with an infographic on the New Year’s to show its audience how their lives will look like in 2016. Unlike many brands that did run-of-the-mill updates and wishes on this occasion, PSH went ahead with content that’s relevant to its audience. Boy, did this unique approach towards content marketing bring them organic results? See for yourself below!

PSH - Think Differently

Here’s another example of unique content marketing strategy by the Tamil Nadu’s Chief Election Officer, where movie and television references were used to spread awareness about the upcoming State Assembly Elections.



Instead of just talking about your brand’s product and services, create useful content that interests your audience. This way, understanding your target group’s expectations and behavior can positively impact your social media content strategy. Spend time on public forums and communities to study the relevant topics discussed by your consumers. Create content that your customers are most likely to consume and will come back to you for more such information.

Petwish is an online pet portal brand who published a series of posts on different dog breeds and their lifestyle characteristics – to help customers choose the ideal dog breed for their family. This being an example of a customer-centric content approach, the campaign went viral garnering 42K shares and 20K likes on the page, all organically. Through this campaign, the brand was able to position itself as a knowledge source for its customer base and indirectly boost its branding and marketing efforts.

Consumer focused approach


While planning your content marketing strategy, keep the communication same across platforms but approach them differently. Design your content to suit the language, environment and behaviors on different digital media platforms. While creating unique content is one thing, distributing it thoughtfully across platforms will help get the most value out of it.

Thus, understanding the potential of each platform and taking a channel-specific approach could result in reaching the right audience, the right way.


Creating content around trending topics or events is an age old technique that many brands have used and succeeded in the past. Spontaneity, messaging and creative presentation are the three important factors to keep in mind while plugging-in your content around a trending event. Use the right hashtags or keywords to make your content easily discoverable. And a tinge of good humour or objective take on a social issue would go a long way in increasing the shareability and making your brand trend along with the topic.

Below are some of the examples of brands that capitalized on the ‘Be like Bill’ meme that took over the Internet few weeks back.

BeLikeBill Apple



Who doesn’t love humour when it’s appropriate and impressive? With memes and funny illustrations dominating the social media world, humour is undoubtedly the best universal language that brands love to speak.

Witty or good humour bridges the gap between a brand and its customer in so many levels and helps in building a community. Spontaneity coupled with creative humour has resulted in a number of successful brand campaigns in the past and will continue to do so.


2016 seems to be year of Visual Marketing with video content and infographics having the best ROI and reception amongst the users. Visual content grabs the audiences’ attention much faster than text and generates more social engagement. According to a recent study by Cisco, video will account for 80 percent of the global internet traffic by 2019. And the numbers have already begun to rise, as more and more brands are gradually moving some of their TV budgets to digital videos.

With the increasing availability of platforms such as YouTube, Vine, Periscope, Blab, Flipagram, etc. and the user community shifting to mobile and social, brand managers should make use of these visually appealing content forms to gain valuable results.




If you have great content and are trying to amplify it through impactful sources, look no further. Influencer marketing helps in identifying leaders with a significant follower base, who can deliver your brand’s message to a wider audience and influencer their opinions / purchase decisions. Using influencers for your content campaigns can result in higher reach and engagement, thus giving you more mileage than your competitors.

What are the content marketing efforts that you’ve taken so far to improve your brand’s online presence? Do let us know about your thoughts in the ‘Comments’ section!

What’s brewing at the Social Media Week Mumbai?

What happens when eminent personalities from various industries come together to share their expertise on social media and its aspects? Yes, it is that time of the year! The much awaited Social Media Week is scheduled to happen next week in Mumbai (November 16th to 20th).

Social Media Week hosts conferences across Europe, Australia, North America, South America, Asia & Africa which aim at connecting more than 1 million people and stands to be a powerful source of information that can be instrumental in shaping the future of human connectivity.

Social Media Week

Image Courtesy – brandwatch
The Mumbai edition of SMW conference this year will witness an entire week of all things social media. This time it is bigger than ever. Over 73 speakers from different verticals will be there to address and advice the audience on various aspects of social media. Celebrities from the media and communication world like Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-chief, Times Now will be there to deliver their thoughts on how social media is commanding the industry at present. SMW will also have successful marketing professionals like Neha Ahuja, Peter Claridge Eric Edge and many more. Entrepreneurs like Sachin Bhatia, Founder, Truly Madly will also be in the panel of speakers.
As of today, not many events that are focused on digital media/social media take place in India. SMW, one of its kind, does not only help build a platform where there are opportunities to learn and share ideas but also network with fellow social media enthusiasts. Overall, it is going to be a social-media filled week with a lot of idea sharing!
We are looking forward to it. Are you?

You can follow live updates from the SMW Mumbai here.

Top 10 tools for Instagram

Instagram allows companies to tell a visual story, to develop brands and to be engaged with customers. But just 28% of marketers currently use Instagram for their businesses. Popularity of Instagram in Google Trends shows a really fast growth for the last years.


So it’s time to start with Instagram marketing. Here is a list of top 10 tools to help your business to build, manage and grow a strong presence on Instagram.

  1. Iconosquare 

Iconosquare is one of the leading analytical tools for Instagram. It allows you to manage your Instagram activity, analyze your performance and engage your customers. With this tool, you can track which top hashtags are being used on Instagram, get detailed dashboards with graphics on engagement with users and use comprehensive tools including functionality to create contests.


  1. Schedugram 

Is Instagram a part of your social media marketing? Schedugram, a startup in Australia, is an excellent tool for Instagram users and social media managers to manage multiple Instagram accounts. Instagram was designed as a mobile tool, but Schedugram gives the opportunity to post pics from your desktop or laptop. It allows you to schedule your posts and post photos as well as videos. You can also edit your pictures, including cropping, adding filters, adding light and saturation properties and other cool effects before posting.


  1. Repost 

Repost app is a good tool to make customers feel involved and appreciated. This application allows brands to demonstrate their user-generated content. Search a photo you like and easily repost it. You can find your customers by hashtags and follow them. Appreciate your customers by mentioning them on your page, to earn customer loyalty.


  1. Like2buy 

Like2buy is “Instagram’s missing link”,  a tool to sell products on Instagram. This app gives an opportunity to drive traffic and revenue from Instagram. Like2buy transform images into gallery of products, available for purchase with a click. User should clicks on the link and it will take them to a page of the brand’s featured products.


  1. Tapshop 

 Tapshop also helps your Instagram followers in shopping. With Tapshop, you can make any image in your brand gallery shoppable by adding a product or category page link. Once your fans find a custom page of their desirable products, they will get an email with direct links to your product pages.


  1. Wispond 

Wispond is Instagram Hashtag Contest App. Gather Instagram photos and showcase them in a voting gallery on your Facebook page, website or mobile. Invite followers to submit their photos from Instagram and vote on their favourite ones. Add Instagram contests into your marketing plan to give your channels a viral impulse.


  1. Flipagram 

Create, share and discover fun photo-video stories along with your favourite music! Flipagram allows you to make slideshows, musical videos, stop-motion effects and more, with millions of free music clips for your Instagram page. You can demonstrate how one of your products can be used in different ways or create a slideshow with interesting photos with your team. The more pictures you have, the better the effect.


  1. Piclab 

Piclab is a tool that allows you to add text to your pictures. If you want to have written information on our images this is a perfect programm to do it. Choose from different fonts, shapes, put stunning filters and photo effects, and add a collection of textures, borders, patterns, and more to your photos.


  1. Hyperlapse 

Hyperlapse is owned by Instagram and creates beautiful time lapse movies. Capture video, choose the acceleration (from 2 to 12 times) and the program will do the rest for you. The video helps in making a nice video that is easy to share with your followers.


  1. Instagram for Business 

 Instagram for Business is one of the best places for businesses to find tools to grow their brands. The Instagram for Business blog has tips, brand spotlights, case studies, and news from Instagram. Use Instagram’s visual language to create your visual story and drive business growth.

Insta for business

Instagram is a powerful tool to connect with consumers and build a community. The key is to stay authentic to your brand and create content and engage with your customers. This will ensure that users not only “follow you” on Instagram, but also become your brand advocates.



How to Leverage Instagram for your business: A marketing guide


If your brand has visually appealing products or a unique story to tell, there cannot be a better stage than Instagram. From luxury brands to media houses to automotives, each have carved a niche of their own and are leveraging Instagram for their businesses. In fact, automotive brands are the most engaged and well-represented. Lot of marketers contemplate whether Instagram can be an effective social media platform for their brand? Even if many marketers want to leverage Instagram for their business, they lack a quick guide that has the tips to build a successful presence on Instagram.

According to a McKinsey study,

  • 75% luxury shoppers carry smartphones
  • 86% brands among the Interbrand 100 have an Instagram account
  • 45% of these shoppers’ purchase decisions are influenced by digital content

A quick look at the above stats convey the fact that 50% of the sales funnel can be readily delivered to potential customers even before they step into your store. This raises an important question: does the might of premium luxury brand correlate to the might on digital platforms like Instagram?

Luxury & retail brands are way ahead of the pack: A Case Study

Hermes, that promotes a lifestyle rather than products, have leveraged videos, short poetic films on Instagram that strikes profound luxurious experiences. For brands like Gucci & Louis Vuitton, the majority of posts revolve around showcasing new collections and designs and getting engagement for the same. In many cases, they have also leveraged digital influencers to promote the products by tagging them and showcasing shots taken by them. Tiffany is another brand that a strong following on Instagram that is just not nominal. The strength of relationship can be gauged from the fact that the engagement on follower base is the highest among the brands mentioned. Let us look at some top tips to help build a strong Instagram presence.

Top 6 tips for deriving maximum returns from your Instagram presence:

1. Long captions aren’t a big NO! 

Including hashtags, the average caption length on Instagram is 135-140 characters which marks a significant focus from brands to avoid long captions. But there is no apparent proof of lower engagement rates for posts with lengthier captions as long as it adds to the visual story of the post.

2. Hashtags rule the roost! 

Hashtags allow access to specific interest groups and they are a great way to mark content that are discoverable organically. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags to be used, and studies show that posts with at least one hashtag get ~12% more engagement. Then, there’s no reason to shy away from using them.

3. Caption content is a NECESSARY integral!

@mentions generally results in more engagement underlying the fact that though the caption length may be immaterial, caption content definitely matters.

4. Geo-tagging boosts engagement 

The posts tagged with location gets ~30% more engagement when compared to their orphan counterparts because there are multiple apps and 3rd party discovery tools that allows location-based searches and content discovery.

5. Videos ≠ Photos 

It’s good to mix the content form and it’s true for any channel. On its own, videos are a great form of content but cannot replace photos on Instagram. Hence, it’s suggested to focus on photos as the central pillar of your Instagram strategy.

6. Call-to-Actions are important

A simple CTA like “select the design you like most” or “Tag your friend who would like this” would be ideal to help boost the number of comments and tags your post gets. The virality of your post has an exponential relationship with the number of comments and tags you get.

Instagram is cool, but it isn’t for our business! 

Does this quote have any resemblance to your boardroom discussions on your marketing strategy? The apprehensions are misplaced.

If your brand doesn’t have glamorous models to endorse your product or a Louis Vuitton bag to display, then does your brand have a place on Instagram? The answer is YES. There are ample examples of brands who lack stunning images but have succeeded in creating an engaged audience on sheer basis of their creative prowess and evoking original content.

From Google to conglomerates like GE to tractor manufacturers like John Deere, most brands are fast coming on Instagram and have many have quickly built an engaging community around their brand. In fact, General Electric is one of the biggest B2B companies on Instagram with ~180000 followers.

Intel definitely needs a mention considering the impressive posts that showcase their products and common problems to solve using technology. This gains good traction as it’s not just hard-selling Intel’s products. In recent times, Instagram has emerged as an effective platform for the hospitality industry with players like Raintree Hotels leveraging geo-location tracking to get walk-ins & bookings.

Measurement: The final frontier

Whether your brand is new on Instagram or have built a strong presence, measurement is an essential part of the strategy to optimize the efforts and extract maximum returns on your investment. Some of the metrics that can help you in this direction are:

  1. Total Engagement

The total engagement is the sum of likes and comments garnered by your posts. This gives basic insights on how well your strategy has worked to keep your audience active.

  1. Engagement per Post

When some posts get impressive engagement while others fall flat, this metric can work as a good measure to optimize the content being pushed on the basis of what is working well with your audience.

  1. Interaction Density

In a given time period, the total engagement gained divided by the total followers shows engagement as a %age of followers; which can be used to study the period-on-period impact of your strategy.

  1. Hashtag Volume

This is only applicable in case of unique hashtag campaigns with affinity to our brand. In such cases, it’s a fair measure of how ‘viral’ your campaign has been.

  1. Total followers

This is an important metric to track the popularity of your Instagram account. The higher the number of followers, the better the chances are of gaining engagements on your post, thus boosting the other metrics discussed here.

  1. Follower Sensitivity

It’s the rate of growth of followers, period-on-period; that can act as an essential measure to track the best performing campaigns and content types.

In case you would like any other information to be included that can be helpful for marketing businesses by leverage Instagram, please do let us know your thoughts as a comment to the post. We shall be more than happy to explore your feedback.

Social Media Trends from Ernst & Young: What has changed in 2014?

India is a significant market for social media giants. We have 100m+ users on Facebook and over 33 million users on Twitter. Mobile web penetration has also been one of the main contributors in the active social media usage. Almost 84% of the 100 million users on Facebook access it through their mobile phones. Keeping all of the above mentioned facts in consideration, it is fair to conclude that the reach on social media is exponentially huge and for brands to tap on this opportunity would result in a vital growth for their businesses

Ernst & Young have released the second edition of the Social Media Marketing Trends in India. They collated data based on the insights shared by top brands in India that are social-media savvy. The previous Ernst & Young study was centered on how brands explored social media to build communities online & sustain engagement. This time, the key focus was on understanding how far have the brands come in the digital space and also the social media maturity levels with respect to the processes and policies, technology and governance across organizations in India.

Let’s have a look at what has changed since 2013!
(Image Courtesy – Ernst & Young)

  1. Reputation Management, Thought Leadership & Recruitment have been added to the objectives to achieve alongside community building & brand engagement on social media.
  2. Facebook continues to be the predominant social media platform for engagement. Google+ and LinkedIn evolved as social media platforms to reach out to professionals across the country (highly relevant for B2B industries). Apart from these two platforms, Twitter, Instagram & Pinterest have also emerged as highly engaging & crucial platforms to spawn conversations with the TG.
  3. Brands have become observant of the frequency of updates on social media channels & response time from the audiences. Most of the top social media savvy brands in India engage with their fans once a day through multiple platforms. The point worth noting here is that the average response time is 1-5 hours per engagement.
  4. The study indicates that with the popularity and expanding reach of social media, around 90 per cent of Indian brands plan on dedicating 15% of their annual marketing spends to social media.
  5. The top 3 challenges have been narrowed down to not being able to successfully measure effectiveness of social media engagements, and creating/curating content & sustaining or increasing engagement rates.

Graph3   (Image Courtesy – Ernst & Young)

The study also highlighted that brands across various industries have realized the implication of tapping on social media channels and understood its peculiar demands.

How do brands in India function digitally?

  1. Most of the Indian brands have their social media strategy & content aligned to meet their business goals. However, there are brands that have their social media strategy in place but do not have it linked to any specific goal.
  2. Many companies have an internal team dedicated for curating social media content & strategy whereas there are few which outsource them from agencies. Mostly Indian brands work on a hybrid model where the internal core team is supplemented by social media agencies & consultants. However, when it comes to the execution part of a social media campaign/strategy the brands turn to social media agencies which run the campaign online.
  3. Market trends and Customer Insights are the key drivers for the brands to formulate their strategies for social media.
  4. Brands are looking at a 360 degree marketing approach and are including social media as a key channel for deploying campaigns along with traditional channels.
  5. Mobile app development is an area that is being explored aggressively since it adds another advertising medium in the bag. Considering that a lot of users access social media channels through their smartphones & tablets, mobile advertising will emerge as a crucial channel for marketing.

How do brands measure success on social media?

  1.  Engagement level, traffic growth rate & social media reach will be the main metrics to measure the success of social media campaigns deployed by the brands.
  2. It is important for brands to tie their social media efforts with their business goals and these goals are measured by the conversions, leads, ROI & sales.
  3. Radian6 and Meltwater emerged as the most popular tools to measure the brand sentiment.
  4. Most of the brands focus on listening to the customers instead of bombarding them with information. And this resulted in companies paying more attention to what their customers had to say about their brand.
  5. Understanding customer perception of the brands, effective monitoring of the brand sentiment, efficient handling of customer queries and better customer insights are some of the benefits that the brands have secured by integrating social media marketing with social listening.

What’s the next big thing?

The study also states that Social CRM, Social Commerce & Gamification will be the future for the brands to explore and harness their growth on.

The full Ernst & Young report on Social Media Marketing Trends in India can be found here.


Bringing Your Facebook Covers To Life!



The digital space has seen a lot of discoveries recently, Real-Time Covers or Live Covers for Facebook being one of them. is one of the first few companies to formally provide this interesting service to the brands that are present online. They offer a brand an auto-updating live Facebook cover that is based on some trigger. It is literally like bringing your Facebook Cover to life with live content & images, automatic refresh, dynamic & customized content and have it updated as often as every 1 minute! Fascinating isn’t it?
We certainly did find this service useful & interesting and ended up using it for one of our clients’ Facebook page which reached a milestone of 1,00,000 fans on Facebook. The idea was to showcase a Superhero on the cover image which would keep getting charged on receiving new likes.

This is how it looked in the beginning –

Live Cover

The trigger for the Facebook cover to update on its own was set at 200 likes. So every 200 likes, there was a new cover with the Superhero charging all the way up to achieving 1 Lac likes.

Live Covers for Facebook

The idea behind using these live covers was to do something different for the fans and it was well-received by the audiences. The likes increased at a 2x rate and within 24 hours we were able to reach the mark of 1 Lac.

Live Cover served as a fruitful discovery for garnering attention from the audiences and also engaging them. In these times where every minute, there is a new digital trend, it becomes important to stay in the race and updated with these trends to unlock new parameters for brand building & extension.