Are advertorials part of your digital tool kit? If not, it’s time to put this powerful direct response (DR) tactic to work for you – to generate leads, drive sales, build brand and improve your ROI.
You have probably heard the word advertorial a hundred times by now. Maybe even seen an article in the newspaper or a magazine and found yourself mistaking it for editorial content.
Until you saw the word ‘advertorial‘ written in small letters at the top. Advertorials are conquering the world right now. Or the marketing world anyway. And this has been the case for several years now. But what is it?
Why is the concept coming at us with the speed of light? And how do you do it yourself? In this ultimate guide to advertorials, we give you all the answers, so you also can take part in the world domination in coming years …
Advertorials : The king of native advertising
With native advertising, companies place their ads in an editorial environment and adapt their advertising content into a mostly journalistic style, so that viewers ideally don’t notice that the intent is to advertise (the basics of native advertising are explained by this article in the digital guide). In this way, marketers can catch the attention of internet users who are otherwise affected by widespread banner blindness. The placement of good advertorials makes up the pinnacle of advertising disciplines. Anyone who manages to place high-quality and multi-valued content in the right place, and with the right approach to their target group, will benefit from the credibility and trustworthiness of the journalistic offer.
Advertisers can use the reach of respective publishers to get through to a lot of people. But depending on the product, a niche blog with a loyal audience can be worth just as much as a large news portal with millions of readers. Advertorials are an interesting form of advertisement, because you not only benefit from the reach of your advertising partners, but also from their credibility. In this article, find out how to create advertorials to successfully advertise, and learn from companies who have been successful in doing so.
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What are advertorials?
Advertorials are advertisements that are placed in an editorial setting on a website or in a magazine to give the impression that they are an editorial article instead of a paid advertisement.
The term advertorial combines the words advertisement and editorial. A classic advertorial combines the central aspects of advertisements and editorial presentation. A commonly used synonym is the word adverticle, or a combination of advertisement and article.
Advertisers expect that advertorials will not be read as an ad by users, but instead as a natural editorial contribution. By using this tactic in the context of native advertising, advertisers benefit from the credibility of the corresponding journalistic site. In the best-case scenario, the reader is also given quality content that is perceived more clearly than the contained advertisement.
In addition, advertorials can help advertisers achieve a high level of content relevance. Publishers offer advertorial space mostly in the context of certain subject areas. As an advertiser, you simply look for the appropriately themed environment that will hopefully meet the interests of your own target group.
Critics argue that advertorials deceive the reader. This accusation of so-called ‘camouflaged advertising’ is unfortunately quite common.
Why advertorials ?
Because it works. Because the readers are much more likely to read an advertorial rather than a regular advertisement. All the way back in 2007, Reader’s Digest did a split test to find out the difference in consumers’ perception of an advertorial and an advertisement. For the test they had created two texts. The two texts were completely identical, but the first one was presented as an advertorial, the other one as a traditional advertisement. The purpose was to sell a product called Adolph’s Salt Substitute. And the test showed the following:
– The text that was written as an article – the advertorial – ended up selling 81 % more products than the one written as a traditional advertisement.
– Reader’s Digest concluded that the readers were 500 times more likely to read an advertorial than a traditional advertisement.
The Secret Power of Online Advertorials
Online advertorials are one of the most effective forms of digital marketing available.
In fact, the only tactic we have found to be consistently more cost-effective at generating leads online is good old-fashioned search. That makes advertorials more cost-effective than display ads.
Given how effective they are, I’m still surprised by how few direct marketers know of, or regularly employ, online advertorials as part of their marketing mix. One of the reasons they are so underutilized is that they’re so simple that they don’t get a lot of attention. In fact, I’m willing to wager this is the only article about online advertorials you’ve ever read.
An online advertorial is, essentially, nothing more than a carefully crafted article about your product, service or nonprofit cause with a couple of photos and a link to your website. But don’t be fooled! When it comes to generating cost-effective, highly qualified leads, online advertorials are beasts! What they lack in sex appeal, they more than make up for in effectiveness.
What makes them so effective is the fact that although they are clearly marked as advertisements, online advertorials look and feel like editorials. In other words, instead of coming across as commercial endorsements, they come across as an unbiased, third-party article about your product, service or cause. And, the fact that they run on sites of specific online publishers (e.g., AARP, Zoomer, Reader’s Digest, BET, Interactive One, Chatelaine) gives them even more clout and credibility.
As a result, consumers eagerly gobble them up and perceive them as being more credible and trustworthy than standard advertisements – all of which translates into more effective advertising.
The standard advertorial is about 500-750 words, is written in a casual, consumer-friendly style and contains a link at the bottom that leads to a landing page or microsite, ideally one that is specifically designed to convert clicks to leads.
While most creative types balk at the idea of using such a simple and – dare I say it – boring tactic, true direct marketers love the fact that online advertorials give them that most precious commodity: time! That’s time to build a detailed sales presentation, properly position features and benefits, and to overcome objections. And, as every savvy direct marketer knows, the more time you have to engage with the prospect, the greater the likelihood of closing the transaction.
We have used online advertorials to market a wide array of products, services and causes, including: pre-paid credit cards, reverse mortgages, child sponsorship, animal welfare, discount-buying clubs, spas, health and auto insurance. Virtually any product, service or cause that has more features and benefits than you can thoroughly discuss in 30 seconds is an excellent candidate for an online advertorial.
If you’re looking for a way to generate more online sales or donations, try running some online advertorials, and let the leads roll in!
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Google’s view on Advertorials
For many marketers, the webmaster guidelines of Google are almost equal to any FTC or press law. Whoever wants to become successful on the internet and stay that way is dependent on organic traffic from (SEO) Google’s search engine – and so needs to play by their rules.
First, advertorials need to be distinguished from so-called guest articles.
Especially among bloggers, guest articles are often used as a classic link exchange or link purchase to improve their own backlink profile. But anyone who does this too much is risking punishment from Google. Using advertorials lowers the risk – if you behave correctly as an advertiser.
Detailed information and explanations about link building and the meaning of PageRank and backlinks can be found in our advice on the topic of “SEO basics: link building tips”.
Google insists on the principle that paid links don’t apply on PageRank, and so cannot influence the search engine rankings. Advertorial links must be distinguished with the attribute rel=”nofollow”. The Google crawler doesn’t use links with this attribute to calculate the link popularity. A nofollow-link also doesn’t enhance the link popularity of the linked website and procures no advantages for it in the Google rankings.
More importantly, the clear identification of paid articles conforms to Google’s principles of readability. It must be obvious to users that the article or link are paid for. The identification should be easily understandable and clearly visible.
Benefits of Advertorial Marketing
When you use an advertorial, you’re using a marketing technique that’s often used for brand exposure, conversion, and lead generation. In this section, we’re going to talk about how.
1. You can convert leads.
First, if you have blog post ideas that relate to your industry, you might consider sourcing out a publication that is interested in advertorials for your industry. For instance, if you run an ecommerce technology business, a publication like The New Yorker might not be a viable option — instead, you might want to consider a publication like TechCrunch, which specializes in all things technology and commerce.
Your advertorial would be shown to audiences that are the most interested in your industry, so you can increase exposure to the right audiences. You might be able to convert quite a few leads from this method.
2. Advertorials build brand awareness.
Next, let’s say you want to build brand awareness with paid ads, but are looking to advance your efforts past social media or TV ads. An advertorial might be a good alternative. The post, unlike ads, is paid for less often, but has the potential to be found by readers long after the publish date.
For instance, let’s say you pay for an advertorial tomorrow. Generally, you won’t have to keep paying to boost the visibility of your ad, like you would have to with other ads. You can earn organic traffic continuously with an advertorial.
3. Retarget your existing customers.
Lastly, if you’re thinking about advertorial marketing, think about how you can retarget your advertorial on your end. When the advertorial is posted, how can you fit it into your content plan to provide value to your existing customers?
Maybe your advertorial is a filmed interview with an industry thought leader, and your customers respond really well to video. You can post the advertorial on your social media accounts, and boost the fact that you partnered with a publication to bring a new video to your audience.
Similarly, you can embed the advertorial into your email list. Your email subscribers are likely devoted customers, so sharing the post with that audience is most likely going to earn you some traffic.
Encouraging your customers to share the post on social media and tag your company is a great way to increase brand awareness online, promote your advertorial, and gain user-generated content from your audience. User-generated content is a fantastic content idea that gives a voice to satisfied customers to market your product from their point of view.
Does all of this sound like an opportunity that can’t be missed? If your answer is, “Of course!”, you’re probably wondering what goes into an advertorial to make them stunning. So, let’s talk about writing an advertorial, next.
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Latest Trends in Advertorials
With digital advertising constantly evolving, what will advertorials look like in the future? How will they evolve as ad-blocking technology introduces new challenges? What can you do to ensure an investment in advertorials maximizes ROI?
By 2021, statistics show 80% of internet traffic will be video. This means advertorials will emphasize video content sooner rather than later. As you explore advertorials, consider creating content that integrates video to complement the copy. In fact, you may want the copy to simply complement the video.
As user-generated content continues to impact conversions, build brand loyalty and intimacy, and deliver unparalleled value to visitors, expect publishers and advertisers to find creative ways to tie user-generated content (UGC) into advertorials. This likely means a focus on content featuring media curated from social channels. A cousin of UGC, influencer marketing, has exploded in recent years, and the expectation is it will only continue to grow. Teaming up with influencers directly or through a network like SocialMob, is already a common practice that will continue to flourish. Publishers and advertisers will increase their budgets and enlist the assistance of influencers to create and distribute advertorials moving forward.
Native advertising is an iteration of advertorials, as native ads blend in with the content they’re placed in and around.
The advantage of native ads for publishers is they do not intrude on the user experience. If they do impact the visitor, it’s generally in a good way that may lead to more conversions. Meanwhile, the advertiser is able to ensure their ads are targeting an audience who is likely interested in their products or services. It’s a win-win for publishers and advertisers, meaning native ads are here to stay.
Mobile-friendly advertorials are a must. More than 50% of global web traffic came from mobile devices in 2017, and it’s safe to say smartphones aren’t going anywhere. While mobile conversions are no sure thing, your mobile user experience needs to be clean and convenient to have a shot at converting. This principle applies to all content.
Keys to Writing Advertorials That Sell
Advertorials are native ads with a single purpose:
getting specific action from the reader.
This could be donating to a cause, downloading a PDF, subscribing to an email newsletter, visiting a store, or buying a product.
An effective advertorial grips the reader and leads her to the logical conclusion — pointing her, in very specific language, to what to do next. This is the call to action.
Advertorials come in all shapes and sizes.
- They could be lists or guides
- They could be videos or print articles
- They could be one page or six
Regardless of the format or medium, however, most tell a story.
This is why there are so many similarities between the essential ingredients of a blog post and an advertorial.
But there are still some specific things you must know.
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