What Is an Advertorial?

Advertorial is magazine, newspaper or website content that looks and reads like that publication’s own content but is, in fact, 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.”

Understanding Advertorials

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 a traditional ad, which is usually heavy on images and light on text.

A study by Contently found that two-thirds of readers felt that they were deceived when they realized that an article or video that they watched was sponsored by a brand. Thus, the danger of advertorials is that they can cause loss of trust among the consumer audience. Many publications indicate when content is an advertorial to avoid misleading readers. 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 consumer audience. An advertorial in a literary magazine whose readers are primarily college graduates should be written with a different tone than an advertorial in a celebrity gossip magazine geared toward mass readership.

Advertorial content should match a publication’s editorial content in terms of style, for example, the way headlines are written, the type of font used, the way columns are laid out and other visual elements. Advertorials can draw the reader in is by telling a story — ideally, a true one — that draws upon a reader’s problems or fears and then describes how the product or service being sold can resolve the issue. The advertorial would support the assertions with statistics, test results or relevant facts. The advertorial should conclude with a call to action that informs the reader 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.