What is an Advertorial? 8 Examples to Help You Write One

What Is an Advertorial? The Ultimate Guide to Writing Advertorials That Engage and Convert in 2024

When you think of an advertisement, what comes to mind? Perhaps a glossy magazine spread showcasing a new car or luxury watch. Or maybe a TV commercial with a memorable jingle and celebrity endorsement.

But there‘s another type of advertisement that is often more subtle and takes the form of an editorial article – the advertorial. In this ultimate guide, we‘ll dive deep into what advertorials are, why they are an effective content marketing tactic, and how to write advertorials that engage readers and drive results for your brand in 2024 and beyond.

What Is an Advertorial?

An advertorial is a portmanteau of "advertisement" and "editorial". It is a paid article written by an advertiser that appears in a publication alongside the regular editorial content. The goal of an advertorial is to inform and educate readers about a topic related to the advertiser‘s industry, products, or services. While the content aims to be genuinely helpful and valuable to readers, it is ultimately a form of advertising with the intent to promote the brand and persuade readers to take an action, such as making a purchase or signing up for more information.

Advertorials have been around for over a century, first appearing in newspapers and magazines. Today, advertorials can be found everywhere from print publications to online media outlets to social media platforms. According to a survey by Pressboard, 72% of publishers create advertorial content, and for over a third of them (37%) it makes up more than 75% of their total annual revenue.

The Benefits of Using Advertorials in Your Content Marketing

So why should your brand consider investing in advertorial content as part of your marketing strategy? Here are some of the key benefits:

  1. Reach a wider, targeted audience. By publishing advertorials in third-party publications that align with your target audience, you can expand your reach and get in front of new potential customers who may not be familiar with your brand. For example, a B2B software company could publish an advertorial in an industry trade publication read by its target buyer personas.

  2. Establish thought leadership and credibility. Advertorials allow you to showcase your subject matter expertise by providing in-depth, informative content on topics related to your business. This can help you build trust and credibility with readers and position your brand as a go-to resource and authority in your space.

  3. Provide value to readers. Unlike a traditional ad that blatantly pushes a product, advertorials can deliver genuine educational value to readers by helping them solve a problem, answering common questions, or teaching them something new. This makes them more likely to view your brand in a positive light and be receptive to your messaging.

  4. Drive awareness, leads and sales. When done well, advertorials can be an effective way to generate brand awareness, drive high-quality leads, and ultimately boost sales. The key is to include a strong call-to-action that motivates readers to take the next step, whether that‘s visiting your website, downloading an asset, or contacting your sales team.

  5. Complement your content marketing. Advertorials can supplement your owned media like your company blog, newsletter, and social channels. They allow you to reach new audiences and experiment with different formats, topics, and styles that may not align with your regular content.

Best Practices for Writing Effective Advertorials

Now that you know the ‘why‘ behind advertorials, let‘s get into the ‘how‘. Follow these tips to create advertorials that will capture attention and achieve your marketing goals:

  1. Focus on providing value. The best advertorials don‘t read like thinly-veiled sales pitches, but rather as genuinely helpful, informative articles. Write with the reader in mind first and foremost. What questions can you answer for them? What interesting facts or statistics can you share? How can your brand help them solve a problem? Leading with value builds goodwill and makes readers more receptive to your brand messaging.

  2. Match the publication‘s style and tone. Advertorials should blend in seamlessly with the regular content of the publication in which they appear. This means matching the writing style, tone, format, and design as closely as possible. For example, an advertorial in The New York Times should have a journalistic, objective tone, while one in BuzzFeed can be more casual and entertaining. Do your research into the publication ahead of time to get a sense of their conventions.

  3. Tell a compelling story. Like any good content, the best advertorials tell an engaging story that draws readers in. This could be a customer success story illustrating how your product helped solve a problem, a narrative weaving together interesting industry trends and data, or a thought-provoking opinion piece. Use storytelling elements like characters, dialogue, and descriptive language to bring your advertorial to life.

  4. Incorporate credible evidence. To establish trust and authority, your advertorial should incorporate evidence to back up any claims you make. This could include data and statistics from reputable sources, quotes from experts or customers, or real-world examples. Be sure to cite your sources and link to them when possible.

  5. Include engaging visuals. Compelling visuals can help your advertorial stand out and communicate your message more effectively. Depending on the publication, you may be able to include elements like photos, infographics, videos, or interactive content. Work with the publication ahead of time to understand what specs and formats they allow.

  6. Have a clear call-to-action. Don‘t forget the ultimate purpose of your advertorial – to drive readers to take an action that benefits your brand. Include a clear, compelling CTA at the end of your piece that tells readers exactly what you want them to do. This could be visiting a specific page on your website, registering for an event, downloading a piece of content, or contacting your sales team. Make it as easy as possible for them to take that next step.

  7. Disclose that it‘s sponsored content. To comply with FTC regulations and maintain transparency with readers, be sure to clearly label your advertorial as sponsored content. Work with the publication to understand their disclosure guidelines and ensure it‘s prominently stated.

Examples of Effective Advertorials

To help illustrate what a great advertorial looks like, here are a few examples from brands in different industries:

Example 1: "5 Signs You‘re About to Hire the Wrong Person" by Robert Half in Inc. Magazine
This advertorial by staffing firm Robert Half appears in Inc. Magazine, a publication targeted at entrepreneurs, startups, and small businesses. The article tackles a pain point many of Inc.‘s readers likely face – hiring new employees. Rather than promoting their services overtly, Robert Half provides an informative listicle-style article with red flags to watch out for in the hiring process. This establishes their credibility and knowledge while subtly positioning their staffing services as a solution.

Example 2: "Travel Smarter This Summer" by American Express in The New York Times
In this advertorial, financial brand American Express offers a helpful guide to summer travel in 2024. The article blends in seamlessly with The New York Times‘ editorial content, offering an objective, journalistic tone. It includes interesting stats about travel trends and consumer spending, establishes Amex‘s authority with quotes from executives, and provides practical tips readers can use. The CTA promotes Amex‘s travel offerings and rewards with a "learn more" button.

Example 3: "Can Data Help You Find True Love?" by eHarmony in Vox
Online dating site eHarmony created this engaging, interactive piece on Vox exploring how data and algorithms power modern dating. The article includes animated graphics and a quiz-style game teaching readers about the science behind online dating. It positions eHarmony as a leader in using data to help people find compatible partners while entertaining and informing the reader.

Conclusion

As you can see, advertorials can be a highly effective way to reach new audiences, establish your brand as a trusted resource, and drive meaningful business results. The keys to success are providing genuine value to readers, partnering with reputable publications, and including engaging elements that draw readers in.

When planning your content marketing strategy, consider testing advertorials to supplement your blog articles, social media posts, email newsletters, and other owned content. You may just find they become an integral part of your marketing mix that delivers outstanding ROI.