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What is an Advertorial? - Definition & Examples

Instructor: Beth Hendricks

Beth holds a master's degree in integrated marketing communications, and has worked in journalism and marketing throughout her career.

What do you get when you combine an ad with editorial content? An advertorial, of course! In this lesson, we'll uncover what advertorials are and look at a few examples, both in print and online.

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

Print

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.

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