Let’s start with that last question first: An advertorial is an advertisement in the form of editorial content.
The term “advertorial” is a blend of the words, “advertisement” and “editorial.” It’s also called a “native ad,” “sponsored content” and even an “infomercial” if it’s broadcast.
An advertorial is an ad that walks, talks and acts like an editorial.
And because this sponsored content takes the same qualities as original publisher content, everybody wins. The reader is happy because they’re benefitting from the copy, the sponsor wins because the reader has gained a positive perception of the brand, and the publisher is happy because his readers and sponsors are happy.
The term advertorial was first coined in 1946, when there were plenty of magazines and newspapers and of course no internet.
You might remember seeing advertorials: They look very much like a story or article, but once you start reading you realize you’re being very sweetly led down the path towards making a purchase.
The writer might start out talking about the problem the product solves or extolling the virtues of this new product they just discovered.
They might go on with examples and testimonials, let you know the manufacturer is offering an ironclad guarantee, and then directing you on what to do to get your hands on this amazing product.
The advertorial is ‘sneaky’ precisely because it flies under a reader’s radar.
If a reader KNOWS they are looking at an advertisement, their defences are up from the start.
But if they think they’re simply reading an article, their defences are down and it’s much easier to sway their open mind into considering your product.
Advertorials, also known as sponsored content, do in fact work online. And they can take different forms. For example, you can begin by discussing the problem and the various solutions, coming to the conclusion that the only real solution is the product you are promoting.
Or you might begin with ‘news’ of an innovation or discovery that leads directly into the product.
If you’re using advertorials on your website, then you can do any of the following:
- Sell sponsorship, so that a company or brand is paying you to have the advertorial on your site. Essentially, they are buying advertising from you in the form of an advertorial.
- Sell affiliate products using your advertorials.
- If you have your own products or services, sell those using an advertorial.
The best places to publish advertorials?
Most likely as posts on your blog, articles on your website and in email spotlights.
If you have a large following on your site or a large email list in the right niche, you’ll find that selling sponsorship advertorials can be quite lucrative.
To have the greatest impact (and make the most sales) you’ll want to write the advertorials in your own voice, just as you might write a blogpost.
Do you remember how you sound when you’re enthusiastically telling a friend about a movie you just saw? That’s the tone to take when writing an advertorial.
You’re recommending, not selling. You’re speaking as a friend to your readers, a friend who stumbled on something awesome you want to tell them about.
If you prefer to not take a personal tone in advertorials and you don’t want your advertiser to write it for you, then the alternative is to write it as though it really is a news story.
This is how advertorials are classically done, and it can be as effective as writing it in your own voice.
Just look at how newspaper articles are structured, and you’ll get the idea of how it’s done.
Don’t get discouraged – most of these techniques take some practice to perfect.
Hang in there and you’ll get it right.
One of the easiest ways to create an advertorial that people will read is to GIVE AWAY the product.
Have the product sponsor agree to giving away one or more of their products.
They pay you to place the contest on your site. You (or they) write up a short advertorial for the product and giveaway, along with instructions on how to enter the contest.
You and the sponsor might couple the product with an ebook, too, as we’ll talk about in a moment. For example, if the product is a blender, then everyone who enters would get the ebook full of blender recipes, and one lucky person would get the actual blender.
This is so simple, and a great way for bloggers and list owners to make extra money or even promote their own products.
Sponsored Ebook Advertorials
One more thing: Sponsored eBooks can be the ultimate advertorials.
This is something a little different from your regular advertorial, but completely doable because these books don’t have to be fancy, long or complicated.
For example, the American Egg Farmers sponsored, “Mr. Food Easter Celebration: 35 Excellent Easter Recipes Free eCookbook.”
Yes, the title was lousy and there were only 35 recipes, but it didn’t matter. The ebook was promoted on their website, in newsletters, as well by bloggers and through social media and even paid marketing.
Each recipe used – you guessed it – eggs.
There were full page ads inside the book promoting eggs. And they also made accompanying videos in their test kitchens.
The book was distributed via Amazon (Kindle) and Apple (iPad) and in the first week alone they had 127,000 downloads.
Sure, you can create your own ebooks for yourself and your business.
But you can also create ebooks for other businesses as well and charge them a hefty fee.
A single ebook for Lion Brand Yarn cost approximately $9,000, but it was worth it to the brand. They had over 100,000 downloads on their own website, as well as 75,000 via Apple and Amazon.
Whatever you call it – advertorials, sponsored content or native ads – it works as well now as it did some 75 years ago when the first advertorial was published.