Don’t Call it a Comeback; Advertorials Have Been Here For Years (And They’re Not Going Anywhere)
Years ago, a famous Reader’s Digest study showed that advertorials create 81% more sales than the same copy in traditional ad form. As much as times have changed, the principle remains the same in the digital age. Advertorials are a tried and true method of reaching a large audience, increasing brand awareness and driving sales. But the art of the advertorial is something that takes a solid creative, editorial and management team to pull off properly.
As much as technology has changed over the last decade, the principle of crafting an effective advertorial stays the same. Advertorials must provide value beyond what they are trying to sell, and they must fit the style of the publication in which they appear in both style and substance. An advertorial must be sourced just like editorial content, and it helps if it’s supported by facts and numbers from legitimate studies. It takes a lot of talent to make all of that happen.
The Great Debate – In-House Versus Outsourcing Advertorial Teams
There are two ways you can choose to do this: By building a in-house advertorial team or through outsourcing. Buzzfeed has been an innovator in the field, using an in-house advertorial team to drive both its revenues and those of its advertisers. A quick look around the digital media world shows many other prominent brands have followed suit.
Vox Media is another prominent media group that’s depending more on advertorials to generate profits, and well known news sites Politico and Forbes both have in-house teams to handle the advertorial load. Forbes BrandVoice is helping companies offer quality advertorials that are very hard to differentiate from the publication’s normal editorial content.
Begin With Strong Leadership
The first thing a good in-house team needs is a team leader. This needs to be someone who understands both the ins and outs of the editorial world, advertising principles and company culture. This person needs to be able to recognize editorial talent and shape it to the company’s needs. He or she must act as a liaison between editorial and other departments to make sure everybody is on the same page.
Perhaps most importantly, the team leader must demand the same editorial excellence that would be expected if the staff was reporting straight news. Advertorials will only be as effective as their ability to be taken seriously and create informative, entertaining experiences for readers. How many writers you’ll need depends on the scope of your projects, but hiring one qualified professional is a good place to start. You don’t necessarily need to hire writers with advertising experience so much as you want writers with a proven history of editorial experience. Of course, their style will need to be tweaked a bit to conform to principles of advertising, but it’s a writer’s job to catch on quickly. With good leadership, the learning curve won’t take long to overcome.
Hire Experienced Marketers
Basically, you are going to want to build a team of savvy marketers and experienced writers/reporters if you’re looking to do things in-house. But if you want to outsource, there are plenty of options as well.
If you run an editorial publication, it’s likely you already have the infrastructure to set up an entire staff devoted to advertorials. But if you work in Ad Ops or as an app developer, for instance, it might make more sense to reach out to professionals who can insure you get the desired ROI out of your advertorials.
Companies like Contently, Percolate and NewsCred offer turnkey solutions for brands and publishers that want to outsource advertorial content. Whether a company wants to sell advertorial space on its site or create advertorials to promote its own products, the best move is to shop amongst these types of companies until you find the right fit for your company If finding/managing talent, handling all of the advertorial editing and processing payments doesn’t fit in your company’s strategy, outsourcing is an extremely simple solution. Contently set the tone with its early success, and now there are plenty of options out there.
In a very complicated digital age where a lot of brands and publishers are still figuring things out, advertorials remain a relatively simple way to grab consumer attention and convert that attention into revenue. It’s just a matter of deciding which route is right for you.