Advertorials 101 – getting this powerful marketing tool right

by The Giles Agency

Since the pandemic, we’ve seen a rise in clients wanting to use digital media channels to boost brand awareness and educate their target audience on their product or services. In light of this trend, we’ve been copywriting more and more advertorials and with every brief we come across a few common misconceptions about how an advertorial works. In this insights piece, we’ll get clear on what an advertorial is and look at two misconceptions that can lead to getting it wrong.

Firstly, what exactly is an advertorial? Think of it as a piece of paid editorial content. Although it can drive sales, it’s best thought of as a long-term awareness-raising tool, in the same vein as a blog post. However, unlike a blog post, it can reach beyond your usual network as it lives on a 3rd party platform such as a news website or a partner platform. It’s designed to look like any another feature story in that publication, except the credits will show the advertiser’s name or may explicitly say it’s an ad.

A balanced advertorial sells through education

And herein lies the first common misconception: that an advertorial should follow the brand’s established tone of voice. In fact, the aim should be to blend, and the piece should use the same tone as the rest of the publication. This often means a shift away from a brand’s usual way of talking but that doesn’t mean you have to go completely against your guidelines. It just means you may need to be a bit more flexible so a reader who’s accustomed to the platform and its style won’t find it jarring.

Which leads us nicely to the next common misconception; that the reader’s already interested. Many brands are accustomed to creating content and insight pieces for their blog or company LinkedIn. In these spaces, the reader is already engaged. We know that because they’re already on the brand’s own platform.

Copywriting advertorials takes a blended approach

However, that’s not the case with advertorials. With an advertorial you’re getting a broader reach, talking to new audiences or re-engaging lapsed customers. Great! But this also means you need to work harder to be relevant and add value to the reader.

If you go too heavy with a sales message, it’s likely the audience will disengage (assuming the publisher goes ahead with your piece at all). Instead, aim to be informative, cater to your customers’ needs and give valuable insights. Formats such as listicles, filled with useful pointers, work well in advertorials.

Cutting through the noise to deliver new, engaging and memorable content can be a challenge. However, it pays big dividends and advertorials are a useful element in any multi-pronged marketing plan.