Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.
Advertising in Disguise
Stop me if you've had this experience: You're reading along in Cosmopolitan or Sports Illustrated when you stumble upon an interesting article about a new beauty product or a system that promises to help improve your baseball swing.
It looks like a magazine article.
It reads like a magazine article.
Except, it's not a magazine article.
It's an advertisement in disguise, a marketing concept that's a mash-up between an advertisement and editorial content, known, logically, as an advertorial.
What is an Advertorial?
Advertorials, sometimes also referred to as native advertising, are meant to be just a little bit sneaky. Blending advertising with what looks like a traditional magazine article, advertorials have a good success rate of encouraging readership, thanks, in large part, to how they look. You'll likely see a large magazine-like headline, bright, eye-catching graphics or photos, and writing that looks like the last article you just read before you flipped the page.
These advertorials are a blend of advertising and editorial content (written articles). Rather than a traditional and obvious ad, brands may choose to go this way when they purchase ad placement in a publication. Because the advertorial is designed to look like the rest of the publication, readers may find themselves perusing the article as though it's part of a magazine's content, a plus in terms of engagement with the brand.
Advertorials are commonly used in printed publications, but that's not the only place you'll find them. More and more, advertorials are popping up on websites, designed to look like another content-focused webpage, but instead promoting a brand and its products or services.
Spotting an Advertorial
So, how do you know when you're faced with an advertorial versus a regular article? There are two giveaways. Advertorials are meant to be advertisements, so you'll likely run into pretty blatant content singing the praises of a new product. Second, the wording ''Sponsored'' or ''Advertisement'' (or something similar) will appear somewhere on the page.
And, that's it! The whole purpose of an advertorial is to match up to the rest of the publication's content so that readers, essentially, keep reading when an advertorial pops up. For advertisers, who have complete control over the content of their advertorial, the goal is to establish build credibility. In fact, researchers have found that not only do advertorials do a better job than traditional ads getting a reader's attention, but there is evidence that the credibility of an advertorial surpasses that of a more common advertisement.
That's great news for advertisers who are taking advantage of this slightly different form of marketing their brand. Let's take a look at a few examples of companies that have implemented advertorial content into their marketing strategies.
Examples of Advertorials
In a women's magazine, the skincare brand, Simple, presented a two-page advertorial that started with a headline about how to care for sensitive skin combined with a large photo of a model's face. There is also a short quiz designed to draw in readers who may have sensitive skin concerns. On the second page of the ad, the brand uses its space to promote its three-step skincare routine.
In another magazine focused on European travel, technology brand HP touts the use of its cameras in capturing travel memories. The first page of the ad features a large photo of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, along with the headline ''On your way to Europe?'' The remainder of the advertorial focuses on ways for travelers to take the best photos, along with advantages of the brand's line of digital cameras.
On the Web
BuzzFeed's website is becoming more acquainted with the idea of sponsored content, or advertorials. Smashed in between articles about your horoscope and the next book you should read, are sponsored articles like, ''11 Things You Need to Know When Traveling With Your BFFs,'' sponsored by a new movie called Girls Trip, and ''How Popular Are Your Opinions On Wedding Etiquette?'' sponsored by insurance company Geico.
In the first example, the connection is clear between the content of the article and the subject matter of the movie, a girls' trip with a group of friends. In the second, Geico is sponsoring a quiz that they hope will be popular on the site (and perhaps shared on social media), in an attempt to get its name out there.
Both pages are mixed in with the rest of BuzzFeed's regular content, and these promotions are only discernible thanks to small icons that say ''promoted by'' or ''brand publisher'' with the name of the sponsor. The pages are laid out in a similar fashion to BuzzFeed's own content.
Advertorials are a blend of two things you don't normally expect to see together: an advertisement and editorial content (written articles). Thanks to a similar look and feel with a writing style, layout, and photos that mimic the remainder of the publication, this native advertising ''tricks'' readers into thinking of the content as something different than a regular advertisement. For advertisers going with advertorials over traditional ads, engagement can often be greater since readers view it like the rest of the magazine. Advertorials can also lead to increased credibility for a brand, thanks to its focus on blending in with publication and enhanced written content.
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