DEFINITION of 'Advertorial'

Magazine, newspaper or website content that looks and reads like that publication’s own content but is actually a paid advertisement. Advertorial content often has the feel of an editorial in that it presents an opinion, but it may also report on product trends or the results of research studies. Advertorials can also appear in video form on websites.

The word “advertorial” combines the words “advertisement” and “editorial.”

BREAKING DOWN 'Advertorial'

Because advertorials are not obviously ads and can provide useful information, consumers may be more likely to pay attention to them and read them than they would a traditional ad. Advertorials also provide the opportunity to include significantly more information about a product or service’s benefits than does a traditional ad, which is usually heavy on images and light on text. Many publications clearly indicate when content is an advertorial to avoid misleading readers and losing their trust. The advertorial will appear alongside the publication’s regular content, but may be labeled “sponsored” or “special advertising section.” Some publications will not print advertorials at all.

As with traditional advertisements, when companies use advertorials to promote their product or service, they must make sure the ad has the right tone and content for the consumers who will likely be reading it. An advertorial in a literary magazine whose readers are primarily college graduates should be written differently than one in a celebrity gossip magazine geared toward a mass readership.

Advertorial content should match a publication’s editorial content in terms of the way headlines are written, the type of font used, the way columns are laid out and other visual elements. They should also use a similar tone and style as the publication they are included in, which means paying attention to sentence length, level of detail, language choice, overall length and storytelling style.

One way advertorials can draw the reader in is by telling a story, ideally a true one, that draws upon a reader’s problems or fears, then describing how the product or service being sold can resolve that issue and supporting those assertions with statistics, test results or whatever relevant facts are available. The advertorial should conclude with a call to action that lets the reader know how and where to purchase the product or service.

Sponsored content or content marketing, in contrast to an advertorial, does not contain a call to action; its purpose is simply to generate brand awareness.