February 13, 2019

Organic vs Paid advertising: Which one should you go for?

hands typing on a laptop indicating paid and organic advertising

If you’ve been in the field of marketing long enough, you would be aware of the constant debate between organic and paid advertising. The tricky thing is there isn’t one right answer. It’s like apples and oranges; you need both in tailored measures. But first things first:

What’s the difference between organic and paid advertising?

An organic advertising strategy involves creating and posting unique, high-quality content on the brand’s website. If the content meets the quality guidelines of search engines like Google, it will start showing up on the first page of search results.

In paid advertising, on the other hand, once you have the content ready on your website, you can distribute it to a much larger audience by paying more prominent websites, bloggers, and social media influencers to publish your content.

Advantages and disadvantages of organic advertising


1. It allows control over content 

Since the content is being pushed out on your website, you have full control over it. Right from the topics to the tonality to the product association, you choose everything.

Consider how various brand websites choose to cater differently to their target audiences. As an FMCG brand, Dabur Honey’s website serves easy-to-consume informational content to a wide audience. In contrast, Moz.com, a more niche, tech-focused brand, caters to businesses and marketers from the digital space.

2. It builds brand presence

Organic content shared on the brand’s own platform can often help answer consumer queries and build a rapport with them.

Consider the example of marketing agency Mindstream Media. Its client, AT&T Experience, wished to spread awareness ahead of an iPhone launch. This was achieved by putting out blog posts that answered popular search queries about the product. One such blog presented a timeline of Apple iPhone launches.

By utilising SEO-driven practices, AT&T Experience’s branded content garnered an impressive number of eyeballs. It achieved a 5160% increase in page views and kept new visitors on the site for an average of 7 minutes.

3. It attracts quality traffic

Organic advertising also allows you to target niche topics through your content. This, in turn, helps attract traffic that is interested in and understands your business. And this especially benefits B2B brands whose clients are more likely to be searching for answers to very specific queries.

Take KISSmetrics: a brand that helps businesses analyse website-based consumer behaviour, and leverage that knowledge to gain more traction. It was in early January 2017 that industry leader Neil Patel purchased the KISSmetrics website for $500,000; a site that doesn’t generate revenue. He then used the same to nurture NeilPatel.com; all of this to improve the quality of traffic generated, specifically within the US.

Over time, this blog helped him garner significant leads for his ad agency.


1. It requires long-term efforts

Building content for a new website takes a lot of time to accomplish. Even a solid content strategy takes time to attract audiences in the beginning.

2. It calls for more resources 

Since content is required to be published regularly on the brand’s site, content writers need to be trained to understand and adjust to the brand philosophy. A content management system needs to be put in place as well.

3. It can restrict the audience 

Although you can customise content for the broad category of the audience you wish to cater to, the degree of fine-tuning that paid advertising offers will always be missing from organic efforts. The option to reach out to a specific age group, location, or an interest-driven community may not always be feasible with the latter.

Advantages and disadvantages of paid advertising


1. It provides faster results

Since paid marketing is carried out through well-established websites with sizeable audiences, your content can almost instantly gain significant viewership. In addition to that, most paid advertising websites offer you an estimate of how many views your content will receive.

2. It allows for wider targeting

You can choose to publish your content on a website that caters to a large variety of audiences. This means you get to reach out to target groups that you hadn’t previously explored.

3. It’s an endorsement of your brand

Having your content published on an established website is seen as an endorsement of your brand – an endorsement that impacts not just the people but search engine bots as well. What’s more, this helps shape your brand as a trusted entity within a short period of time as opposed to building it via organic advertising.

For instance, if a website like Sportskeeda were to endorse Decathlon, the latter would definitely observe a boost in its branding. At the same time, it will attract exactly the right kind of people, i.e. people who are interested in sports.


1. It provides short-term results

Websites that offer paid advertising usually have a limited time during which your article will be prominently displayed on their website. After this period is up, readership for the content drops off steeply.

2. It requires greater expenditure

Although paid marketing doesn’t require using your own resources, paying the hosting website/ third-party for writing your content and/or hosting it can cost quite a bit of money.

3. It is of lesser brand value

Since the content is hosted on a different platform, the audience that visits your own website is relatively small. This, in turn, can affect your brand value since only a few people will associate the paid content with your brand.

4. It’s often difficult to measure

This is definitely a challenge faced by many; in fact, 76% of marketers view determining the ROI of influencer marketing campaigns as a challenge. While there are a few ROI measuring factors, not being able to gauge accurate performance is something you will have to make peace with.

How to choose the best advertising strategy for your brand

If your brand is well established in the digital space, most of your content will easily rank on Google and other search engines. If that is the case, you may want to utilise paid advertising for basic branding and staying relevant. And at the same time, continue monitoring the organic performance of your website.

If your brand isn’t doing well organically, you could invest in paid advertising to start establishing your brand presence. Give organic advertising some time to start performing on the search landscape. Once it shows improvement, slowly and steadily reduce your spending.

Always remember that a good content strategy balances the spending and results effectively by making good use of both paid and organic advertising.