An advertorial is an advert that is written in a particular style and that has a slightly different aim and use than other forms of adverts. This is ‘advert as article’ and it has a lot going for it that any marketer should consider. In this post, we’ll be looking at the role of the advertorial in a bit more detail, as well as how you should write the perfect example!
While an advertorial can be found in both print media and online, it is perhaps most traditionally associated with print media. Here, the advertorial is often an ad that will appear in magazines that are displayed as full-page adverts.
What’s most important regarding advertorials, is that they are written as though they were articles. Often this will be written like news and in some cases, it can genuinely provide a lot of information.
The name is a portmanteau of these two terms in fact:
Editorial + Advertisement = Advertorial!
Many people reading this might at first think that this sounds misleading. Perhaps they are concerned that their advertorials will be misleading, in that they will sound like articles when they are really adverts.
This is not the objective of a well-written advertorial however, and in fact it should always be made clear in some form or another that the article is in fact an advert. In print media, there will normally be a little disclaimer at the top, describing the content as an advert.
In fact, you can make the argument that a lot of content marketing blurs the line between an advertorial. Read content on a website like Bulletproof Exec. Here, you will find interesting articles that tell you how to ‘hack’ your body for better sleep, weight loss or similar. However, almost every article will include tips that revolve around companies the product sells. This is part editorial but it is also subtly advertising.
This is not quite what we would consider to be advertorial however, but rather is content marketing.
Advertorials can however still take on a number of different forms.
One of the most common forms of advertorial is the full page advert which is written as an article, as explained. Often this will simply be ‘news’ that covers the release of the new product.
USERS SAY THAT THIS NEW HAIR PRODUCT HAS MADE THEIR HAIR SOFTER THAN EVER!
All of us want the softest and glossiest hair we can find, and all of us have struggled with split ends at some point. According to users though, a new product from [COMPANY] might just have finally solved all those problems.
The product comes from…”
This kind of advert is much more ‘blatantly’ advertorial in that it is more clearly subjective and trying to make a point and make a sale. That is obvious here because the focus of the story is 100% on the product itself.
Still, notice how the advertorial is written in the third person and not written as a release from the company itself. It does not say ‘Our new product’ and it still has some preamble, much like a traditional editorial.
Notice as well that the headline is written in a way that grabs attention and includes social proof.
This is the same strategy we will often see online, and this tends to utilize even more ‘clickbait’ styled headlines. These headlines are purposefully hyperbolic or they leave out key details in order to encourage the reader to read on. They might include elements of faux controversy.
So examples include:
“THIS NEW PILL CLAIMS TO BE ABLE TO GIVE ANYONE A SIX PACK… BUT SHOULD IT BE LEGAL?”
“PERSONAL TRAINERS HATE THIS NEW DIET PLAN!”
“ONE WEIRD TRICK THAT CAN SHED POUNDS”
But both these kinds of advertorial have, over time, become somewhat outdated. The problem is that these strategies have been over used and they are somewhat transparent even to begin with. Therefore, many users now see through them and they know what to expect.
The result is that content creators and advertisers have had to become a little more creative in their strategies and have tried to make ads that are less obviously ads.
The golden ratio is often said to be 70%-30%. This is to say that the best content should be 30% promotion and 70% interesting and useful content.
If you have ever read a magazine by a company like Wired then you might have encountered something like this. These magazines for instance will often come with inserts that include detailed articles on subject that is at once interesting and also promotional.
For instance, in Wired there was recently a piece on IBM’s manufacturing process. The article talked about some of the innovative techniques that the company used and had lots of great pictures of the cars being created.
The article is something that could very likely have existed in the magazine anyway. In this case, it just so happened to also be an advert for IBM and of course reading about innovations in manufacturing will only make a car seem more desirable!
This tends to be the better strategy if you have the opportunity to add an ad to a magazine, then this is the best route to go down. Not only does it seem less clearly biased and self-motivated, but it also offers the reader something interesting in return. On top of that, the reader is going to want to read the advert, which is more than can be said for the vast majority of ads we see and treat simply as spam to be gotten rid of!