For some products, capturing a shopper’s attention requires long-form persuasion, a blend of advertising and editorial.
“Advertorials” are not new. Newspaper and magazine publishers have long deployed them to look like articles but promote like ads. A good advertorial is informative and engaging. It resides seamlessly on the platform while clearly disclosing that it’s a paid piece.
Advertorials are highly effective when done right. They allow a retailer or brand to engage prospects and deliver a persuasive argument for a product’s value.
Advertorials accomplish one or more of the following.
- Educate an audience. An advertorial can describe in detail a product’s benefits, use cases, or unique value proposition.
- Tell a story. A chocolate bar company has a story to tell when, say, its founders sail to South America four times a year to hand-select cocoa beans grown by an indigenous tribe. Shoppers would likely read a magazine-like feature describing the purpose and the journey and emphasizing how the chocolate is both delicious and sustainable.
- Address misconceptions. Advertorials can correct common misconceptions or myths about an industry, brand, or product.
- Launch new products. Long-form explanations are helpful in detailing an item’s features and benefits.
- Leverage influencers. A celebrity or authority could collaborate with an advertorial, adding that individual’s clout to support product claims.
- Test product messaging. Advertorials facilitate testing without impacting the overall brand.
Advertorial vs. Content Marketing
Advertorials and content marketing, while similar, differ in their approach, intent, and presentation.
Both use content to engage a target audience. But advertorials are specifically promotional, while content marketing prioritizes value and relationship-building.
Moreover, advertorials aim for an immediate sale, while content marketing might seek micro-conversions or lesser goals. For example, a golf retailer might produce swing tutorials as part of a content marketing campaign to attract search engine traffic. An advertorial from that retailer could describe the Callaway Paradym driver with its adjustable head to change the face angle.
Finally, advertorials appear as news articles while labeled as a promotion. This journalistic presentation differs from most content marketing.
Consider the example advertorial from Hear.com, a hearing-aide provider.
We see aspects of an advertorial immediately. First, the page resembles an article, unlike other sections of Hear.com.
The headline implies journalism.
Why this tiny German hearing aid is taking the U.S. by storm, according to the experts.
A byline — “Julia Grabenhorst, Editor” — suggests credibility.
Yet the page is clearly marked as an advertorial and includes trust badges common to promotional content.
The copy begins with a problem statement.
Alarming fact: More than 48 million Americans hear so poorly that their quality of life significantly suffers as a result. The problem: Most wait too long to act, hoping their hearing will improve on its own. Sadly, it never does.
It then offers a solution: the Horizon hearing aid.
The copy continues to make the case for the product, offering a background of the inventors and the company.
We learn more about benefits.
Advertorials such as the example from Hear.com can be excellent landing pages for advertising campaigns.
The aim is to drive traffic to the page and refine the copy until it generates a consistent and predictable return.
Advertorials bridge storytelling and selling. They educate potential customers, clarify misconceptions, and test marketing messages. Done well, they are part of a successful marketing mix.