Have you ever wanted to publicize your product in a prominent online feature, only to get lost in a sea of other brands? Or what about the pain of having to shell out MAJOR dollars to even get a mention, just to have your brand’s message get bungled or the shoutout cut short?
PR spots are some of the most effective tools to convince someone to buy your product. But they can come at a substantial cost. That’s why big digitally native vertical brands (DNVB) like Harry’s and QALO are diversifying their content and moving to more self-hosted online advertorials or native advertising.
What’s an advertorial? Think advertisement + editorial. A quick Google search defines it more formally as “a newspaper or magazine advertisement giving information about a product in the style of an editorial or objective journalistic article.” Advertorial content tends to have more copy than imagery—gasp!—and is rich with information about a brand or product. It’s an ad masquerading as an informative article hosted on your own website.
Digital advertorials offer complete, unbridled opportunities to explain your brand or product exactly how you want to. You can control the exact language, stats, and images you want to include, and they’re not held to the same standards as third-party PR. They complement the shorter quick-sell or teasing of the Facebook ad, as well as offer new potential for PR-style ad headlines.
Now, this isn’t a new idea per se. Our internally revered advertising deity, David Ogilvy, was famous for his copy-dense ads.
Here’s one of the most famous ones he wrote for Guinness:
As the story of this ad goes from the Ogilvy & Mather site, “Guinness requested an ad telling people that their stout went well with oysters. Research director [David] Ogilvy immediately immersed himself in a Yale biologist’s book on shellfish, and came up with this ‘guide,’ which at first glance seems to be more about oysters than the product. A more careful reading, however, reveals that all that oyster copypoints lead, eventually and slyly, to the subject of Guinness.”
Advertorials today may be less “sly” about their copypoints, but the inspiration is the same: finding new and creative ways to communicate to your customers in the areas most native to them.
So by now, you’re convinced. But what are some features worth considering to ensure your advertorials get the results you want/need?
If at all possible, have a professional write it. Whether you have an in-house copywriter (like me!) or contract a freelancer to pinch-hit, make sure a marketing writer writes your advertorial—someone who understands editorial formatting, blog writing, and your brand, and who can combine them into one massive sales driver.
Resist the hard sell and remember that advertorials are a long game. Like a Trojan horse, they must appear first as pure editorial content, interesting and worth reading, but also hide a subtler, implicit sales pitch. In the examples above, see the click-worthy headlines, authors’ names and dates, and formatting that allow the reader a pleasant experience.
Now, we ARE NOT advocating that you write untrue things about your brand or products, or bamboozle your customers in any way. There’s plenty of room for truth in marketing, after all. But rather, this is your opportunity to tell your story—a genuinely compelling story that is interesting and worth reading—and to do so on your own terms.
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