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How to Write Compliant Advertorials



Today I want to talk about the art-form of how to write compliant advertorials that convert like crazy.

For those of us who don’t yet know what the f-heck an advertorial is… They’re native advertisements which can be found on any number of different types of websites… think of it like this. You want to put an ad up on some website but you don’t want to be glossed over by the dreaded “ad-blindness” which plagues the majority of poorly crafted ads these days. How do you do this? The proper response to that question is “very sneakily my dear fellow marketer and internet alchemist.” (Is ‘sneakily’ even a word?)

Okay, jokes aside it basically works like this:

  • Find a target webpage you wish to advertise on
  • Take note of what sort of content populates said page
  • Gather up some killer info on the subject and make sense of it
  • Write a small article which is a blend of part info, part advertisement
  • The ratio of information to advertisement is roughly 80/20
  • Create an extremely bizarre or captivating image if one is permitted in the ad-spot
  • Launch the ad and monitor your stats for the duration of its life-span
  • Tweak and optimize as necessary

I know that may seem like a whole lot of junk to do and it is… but the good news is that it’s all really short, sweet and simple steps which honestly won’t take even the “newbiest” of new marketers more than maybe an hour to get through- and that time will drop dramatically as you continue to get better at doing this stuff.

Why Advertorials Work So Darn Well

Before we jump into the specifics of how to craft these little pieces of marketing magic let’s talk about why they work so well.

The short answer to this is simply that you are essentially borrowing the credibility of the website you’re advertising on. Although they are perfectly legal and completely ethical forms of advertising (provided you craft them in that way) the honest truth is that advertorials are a bit sneaky because the majority of people reading them will just naturally assume they’re looking at “just another article” on the site you’re advertising with.

Due to the variety these types of ads come in and all the different places you could put them it’s not hard to see why the native-ad has become king of the hill in recent years.

Advertorials come in a variety of flavors such as:

  • Listicles, or list style guides and articles
  • Informative video adverts which blend perfectly with the original site’s content
  • Full-sized articles which combine the craft of a sales page with solid article writing
  • These advertorials can be part of a page or five pages long or more!
  • Pretty much any form you can relay valuable information while setting a sales pitch works

Chances are extremely high that you’ve landed on a website which has a bunch of these sponsored posts and you have even probably read them and maybe even followed a few of them through to the sponsor’s website without even paying much notice to the fact you’ve just been converted on an effective advertorial. Hit up any major site and you’ll see they pretty much all have advertorials up in one form or another.

Take a look at that image above and notice the appearance of an article titled “11 Snaps only starbucks lovers will understand.” This looks like a typical list-style article you’d find on a site like BuzzFeed only this particular article is sponsored by Starbucks which effectively makes it an advertorial.

Directly above this text is another example of an advertorial found within The New York Times website. Once thing you’ll notice is the difference in how these ads are listed. BuzzFeed marks their ads by calling them “promoted” while the NYTimes calls them “paid post.”

Something you need to be aware of is every time you see one of these ads they’ll always be denoted in some way, you’ll probably never see an ad in any form on a legitimate site that isn’t somehow labeled as such; doing so is basically illegal and just considered a shady business practice.

In short, when created following the advertorial best practices, advertorials work so well because of the places they’re often times found and how they’re crafted to look like well written and informative articles instead of just some typical ad you’d find plastered up on any number of sites all over the internet. The power lies in the placement and format of these ads.

How To Write An Advertorial That Actually Works

The frame of mind you should approach these advertorials from is one of giving value. I hate using that phrase as I feel its way over used to death but it’s absolutely true in this case. You want to write an article based around whatever your offer is, but that isn’t enough. This article needs to be so informative, it needs to give so much value to the reader that they’ll love it over anything else they could possibly read on that website. In fact, you want it to be so awesomely informative that it’ll make the reader just forget about the site they’re on completely and want to go visit your site or offer and make that conversion thus landing you a sale!

I’m sure you’ve already considered this but what we’re effectively talking about writing here is a sales page which doubles as a tutorial or some sort of informative article that brings to light all the benefits and features of whatever your offer happens to be.

When you keep in mind that these articles should be mostly well crafted information and marginally sales-pitch then you have everything you need to formulate an effective advertorial.

It’s a good idea to keep the call to action near the bottom of the article. The reason for this is simply because pushing the product or offer before you’ve effectively given a solid case for the sale will often times yield in lower conversation rates. You might get people clicking over to your site just out of curiosity but when you recite your call to action after you’ve hyped up all the cool stuff your offer has in store for the reader then you stand a much higher chance of actually landing that sale because it only makes sense that people who read what you have to say all the way through are more likely to want to buy than those who don’t.

Study your target publication

Each site you wish to place an advertisement on will be unique in its own way. You need to study the details to know how your ad should be crafted. Looking for details such as:

  • Site context, is it a medical site, viral “entertainment” site, etc.
  • The layout is important, pay attention to how they organize their content.
  • Typography matters in most cases.
  • Look at the column choices and design the look of your ad to fit within them.
  • Pay very close attention to things like headlines, blurbs and bylines.

You need to have a grasp on the audience which visits these sites. If you don’t know who you are speaking to then you’ll find your words will often times fall on deaf ears and that’s no good for conversion rates.

Mimic opening sentences

One thing you’ll notice on most websites is how they often tend to flow in a certain way. Most articles will have opening lines which follow a certain type of flow, mimic these in your own advertorials whenever possible by borrowing the style of other articles you find on your target site.

Mimic article bodies

Just like the opening line of an article is important to pay close attention to, it’s also a good idea to do similar with the rest of the article’s body. It’s perfectly fine to put your own flare on your articles but you’ll want to do your best to make your advertorials have a certain cohesion with the rest of the content found on the publication you’re targeting.

Study the readership

Knowing your audience is extremely vital for any level of success otherwise you’re shooting blanks in the dark. You need to have at least some understanding of the type of person who follows the publication you’re composing your native-ads for.

Follow the advertising policies

This is important to do because your ads will be reviewed before they’re accepted and if you’re breaking rules not only do you stand the chance of simply not being accepted at all but you might wind up slipping through the cracks only to have your ads yanked shortly after at a loss. This has been known to happen from time to time and you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself if you pay for that advertorial only to get it pulled down the very next day, or even worse… just hours later.

Following Guidelines & Keeping It Legal

On top of keeping on good grounds with the FTC which do require certain forms of disclosures when advertising online, it’s also necessary to be mindful of the terms of service when dealing with individual websites and the like.

For an example of these advertorial guidelines you can have a look at some of these popular sites and see what they entail in their own advertising requirements.

What Not To Do In Your Advertorials

The best thing you can do is review the FTC website which was linked above… Here’s another link for convenience sake.

But most of the usual stuff you’d expect such as:

  • Don’t make false claims
  • Don’t use the likeness of others without their written endorsement
  • Stay away from using copyrighted material unless you have permission to
  • Don’t break the rules and follow guidelines laid out by each publication you’re ads appear on

It’s pretty simple really… don’t do any of that “typical” shady stuff you see plastered up all over those bogus sites you’ve no doubt run into from time to time and you’ll be alright.

Become A True Powerhouse

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