Advertorials in Today’s World.

When an ad pretends to be an article it is called an advertorial, a perfect combination of advertising and editorial. Advertorials go all the way back to 1940s when brands and companies began collaborating to create advertorials[1]. At first, advertorials were simply in the form of articles; they later evolved to be integrated into new forms to be published in radio and television. I believe that advertorials should have a special place in marketing and copywriting because today they are considered a part of a huge marketing segment. Content marketing and advertorials are one of the main avenues for brands to sell online by having a call to action without forcing the product or service onto readers and potential customers. However, some argue this is a controversial marketing technique because it deceives the target audience in order to sell a product or service. I argue that advertorials are very useful, and some audiences welcome such forms of advertising; as well, some companies are trying to be very clear about which of their content is paid for by advertisers to avoid any ethical issues. Advertorials are here to stay, and as long as brands are honest and executing them thoughtfully advertorial is a promising advertising technique.

 

As the “father of advertising”, David Ogilvy, said “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look and read”. Therefore, study the graphics used by editors and imitate them. Study the graphics used in advertisements and avoid them.” [2]David Ogilvy found out a long time ago the importance of telling the story behind the product and how it can help attract the attention of the consumer; this is what we now call the storytelling technique. This term is used in today’s world almost constantly by marketers, advertising companies, and online tutorials on how to build a successful marketing plan.

 

So, what exactly are we talking about when we use the term advertorial today?

Nowadays, advertorials are considered part of content marketing, a huge marketing segment. A recent article by a content marketing firm that works on the storytelling aspect of marketing mentioned that, If you think about the “huge marketing segment” as a family tree, content marketing is the main part and it branches out to branded content that branches to Native advertising that branches to both Advertorials and sponsored content.”[3]. There are so many different marketing buzzwords that are thrown around the marketing industry that sometimes it is hard to keep up with every one of them. It is crucial for marketing companies and brands to know the difference among these similar terms. Also, knowing the different meanings of each of these marketing techniques can better help companies target their ads. Some audiences may feel more deceived by advertorials or native ads; this is why such techniques are sometimes controversial[4]. Sponsored content and advertorials fall under the native advertising category. Sponsored content might take the form of an article which makes the audience sometimes think of it as an advertorial. The main difference between them is that sponsored content does not have a call to action for the product or service. It is solely meant to inform and help the reader in a specific area; it may kickstart a customer-brand relationship. This type of native advertising can be seen mostly when a new product or service is released into the market[5] . Advertorials, on the other hand, take the form of an article that discusses the benefits of the product and contains a call to action that can help drive sales and grow the customer base[6].

 

What do advertorials’ key performance indicators (KPIs) throughout the years tell us?

The definition of advertorials alone can give us a hint at one of the many reasons it is such a powerful marketing technique. It does not look like a banner ad or any other traditional advertising. An article by Relevance mentioned that “People love to buy but hate to be sold”[7]. This makes advertorials perfect even for those who claim to ignore ads. Working on an advertorial requires more storytelling than other traditional forms of advertising.

In 2013 brands spent, on average, 6.7%of their digital content marketing budgets on advertorials and native ads[8]. Big brands like TIMES, National Geographic, BuzzFeed, and Refinery 29 are charging more than $150,000 for advertorials and native ads. It has been found that if a brand focuses on executing the advertorial well it will have a positive impact on the consumer’s behavioral reaction which results in increasing the sales of the product[9].

 

Contently conducted an interesting study on the topic where they surveyed 509 men and women over the age of 18 after showing them an advertorial for a product called Miracle-gro.https://contently.com/2015/09/08/article-or-ad-when-it-comes-to-native-no-one-knows/ One of the main reasons for this ad’s success was because Miracle-gro was able to identify its audience, and they placed the advertorial intentionally on a website where the target audience would find it and read it. Ultimately, it appears that the context and execution of advertorials have a huge impact on consumer trust. On the other hand, when they asked the people if they trust sponsored ads regardless of the publisher, 52% of the people surveyed said “no” and only 19% said “yes”. This can be explained, as we mentioned before, by people loving to buy but not liking being sold to. People will remember the large number of obvious advertisements that bother them daily, rather than that one advertorial they read that helped them buy the perfect product. While it is accurate to say that most people claim they don’t trust it as a concept, that doesn’t necessarily hold for an individual advertorial, as long as they are done well[10].

 

According to a recent study by the Northeast Ohio Media Group,  70% of the people they surveyed said they were interested in learning about products through content rather than the normal and traditional advertising and banner ads[11]. By publishing advertorials brands are providing content that consumers are looking for. Yes, brands are paying a lot of money to have their advertorial placed in front of a particular audience, but it is the audience who wants to read it. Paying for that is about ensuring the right audience sees it, and it is also about potentially reaching an audience that the brand might not otherwise reach; hence creating a symbolic relationship that makes consumers, publishers, brands, and advertisers happy.

 

With advertorials comes controversy. Many debates whether advertorials are fundamentally misleading readers by making an advertisement look like a story.

The main reason, and the one that is likely to be favored by advertorial critics, is that readers cannot simply tell the difference between an advertorial and a regular article, and that the “visual similarity” of an advertorial and a regular article is deceptive. http://theconversation.com/how-native-advertisements-could-be-the-solution-to-the-internets-bad-ad-problem-45145

 

Now, brands are making sure to show that the content is sponsored and label it very clearly because the last thing they want to do is lose the trust with its potential customers. For example, the New York Times has a banner at the top that says  “paid post”, and BuzzFeed uses their #sponsored hashtag when showing an advertorial. We cannot disregard the fact that it is still a very controversial technique, but this is still a growing marketing area. A recent report by the Business Insider predicts that the spending on native ads, including social media posts, will grow from 7.9 US billion to more than 21 by the end of 2018. If companies are more open about their paid content, we might see a shift in people’s opinions about them[12].

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has already issued strict guidelines on how these ads must be identified as paid or sponsored content to avoid consumer confusion[13]. While it is true that there is a long way to go to create perfect advertorials, brands, publishers, and even governments are pushing to make disclosures of advertorials even more pronounced which will make it more ethical and will hopefully change public opinion on this marketing technique by creating more of a positive experiences.


Works Cited:

  1. “Advertorial Examples for Content Marketing.” Content Refined. March 22, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.contentrefined.com/advertorial-examples-for-content-marketing/.

 

  1. Howe, Patrick. “How Native Advertisements Could Be the Solution to the Internet’s Bad-ad Problem.” The Conversation. September 20, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018. http://theconversation.com/how-native-advertisements-could-be-the-solution-to-the-internets-bad-ad-problem-45145.

 

  1. Lazauskas, Joe. “Article or Ad? When It Comes to Native Advertising, No One Knows.” Contently. February 01, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://contently.com/2015/09/08/article-or-ad-when-it-comes-to-native-no-one-knows/.

 

  1. Manalo, Joyce. “A Brief History of Native Advertising.” Contently. February 04, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://contently.com/2014/03/28/a-brief-history-of-native-advertising/.

 

  1. “Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses.” Federal Trade Commission. December 22, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/native-advertising-guide-businesses.

 

  1. Pollitt, Chad. “Advertorials in the Age of Content Marketing and Promotion.” Social Media Today. November 11, 2014. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/advertorials-age-content-marketing-and-promotion.

 

  1. Rugh, John. “Is Native Advertising Right For You?” Relevance. October 27, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.relevance.com/is-native-advertising-right-for-you/.

 

  1. Sharma, Nikhil. “Native Advertising vs. Advertorials: Knowing the Difference.” Business 2 Community. June 01, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.business2community.com/native-advertising/native-advertising-vs-advertorials-knowing-difference-01240432.

 

  1. WALTERS, Tim, and Robert Rose. “Is Native Advertising the New Black?” Content Marketing Institute. November 09, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.slideshare.net/CMI/is-native-advertising-the-new-black.

 

  1. Zhao, Anna. “The Hierarchy of Branded Content: Defining Sponsored Content, Native Ads & Advertorials.” Quietly Blog. June 15, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://blog.quiet.ly/industry/hierarchy-of-branded-content/.

[1]Manalo, Joyce. “A Brief History of Native Advertising.” Contently. February 04, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://contently.com/2014/03/28/a-brief-history-of-native-advertising/.

[2]Rugh, John. “Is Native Advertising Right For You?” Relevance. October 27, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.relevance.com/is-native-advertising-right-for-you/.

[3] Zhao, Anna. “The Hierarchy of Branded Content: Defining Sponsored Content, Native Ads & Advertorials.” Quietly Blog. June 15, 2016. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://blog.quiet.ly/industry/hierarchy-of-branded-content/.

[4] Sharma, Nikhil. “Native Advertising vs. Advertorials: Knowing the Difference.” Business 2 Community. June 01, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.business2community.com/native-advertising/native-advertising-vs-advertorials-knowing-difference-01240432.

[5] Sharma, Nikhil. “Native Advertising vs. Advertorials: Knowing the Difference.”

[6] Madeleine. “Advertorial Examples for Content Marketing.” Content Refined. March 22, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.contentrefined.com/advertorial-examples-for-content-marketing/.

[7] Rugh, John. “Is Native Advertising Right For You?”

[8] Pollitt, Chad. “Advertorials in the Age of Content Marketing and Promotion.” Social Media Today. November 11, 2014. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/advertorials-age-content-marketing-and-promotion.

[9] Lazauskas, Joe. “Article or Ad? When It Comes to Native Advertising, No One Knows.” Contently. February 01, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://contently.com/2015/09/08/article-or-ad-when-it-comes-to-native-no-one-knows/.

[10] Lazauskas, Joe. “Article or Ad? When It Comes to Native Advertising, No One Knows.” Contently. February 01, 2017. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://contently.com/2015/09/08/article-or-ad-when-it-comes-to-native-no-one-knows/.

[11] WALTERS, Tim, and Robert Rose. “Is Native Advertising the New Black?” Content Marketing Institute. November 09, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.slideshare.net/CMI/is-native-advertising-the-new-black.

[12] Howe, Patrick. “How Native Advertisements Could Be the Solution to the Internet’s Bad-ad Problem.” The Conversation. September 20, 2018. Accessed November 13, 2018. http://theconversation.com/how-native-advertisements-could-be-the-solution-to-the-internets-bad-ad-problem-45145.

[13] “Native Advertising: A Guide for Businesses.” Federal Trade Commission. December 22, 2015. Accessed November 13, 2018. https://www.ftc.gov/tips-advice/business-center/guidance/native-advertising-guide-businesses.

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