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What is an Advertorial?

J. Beam
J. Beam

A term that combines the words “editorial” and “advertisement”, an advertorial refers to a type of print advertisement designed to resemble editorial content. An advertorial is written in the form of an objective opinion editorial and may resemble a news story about a product or service. Like any other form of advertising, an advertorial is a paid placement in a magazine, newspaper, or other printed publication, but is a less obvious form of advertisement than traditional ads.

Advertorials frequently feature information about a new product or technological advancements in existing services. An advertorial is written similarly to a press release and often contains statistics on scientific research, consumer trends, or other authoritative pieces of information. Though it may appear to be an objective opinion, an advertorial is actually paid advertising. There may or may not be a disclaimer printed with the advertorial that tells readers it is advertising.

An advertorial is a paid placement in a magazine or other printed publication.
An advertorial is a paid placement in a magazine or other printed publication.

A concept that was popularized by Mobile Oil’s revised marketing strategies in the early 1970s, advertorials have proven to be an effective means of marketing a company or product. Much like product placement, an advertorial is a non-obvious form of advertising that can subtly grab the attention of consumer audiences since they believe they are learning useful information that can guide them to a consumer decision rather than being blatantly sold a product or service. Though an advertorial appears objective, there is no trace of negativity because it is paid advertising, making it non-objective in reality.

A review of a local restaurant might be considered an advertorial.
A review of a local restaurant might be considered an advertorial.

Advertorials work well for products and services where information sells better than images. Products and services frequently featured in advertorial form include nutritional supplements, cosmetic procedures, sporting goods, educational training programs, and travel agencies.

In a print publication where an advertorial appears, there are typically subtle differences between the ad and the remaining content. They can sometimes be identified by their appearance because they are printed with a different font or on different paper than the rest of the publication. At times, depending on the type of publication, an advertorial may appear as a single insert rather than printed directly in the publication in the form of copy.

While many advertorials carry fine print disclaimers, there are a few publications that contain strictly advertorial content throughout – especially in the travel industry. Many people view this as less than ethical, but companies generally expect readers to know the difference between genuine news and advertising.

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Discussion Comments


@Melonlity -- if you are going to ban advertorials, you should also get rid of advertisements in general. But there's a problem with either plan -- the main source of a newspaper's revenue isn't generated by rack sales or subscriptions. Like it or not, ad revenue keeps revenue coming into newspapers and supports the editorial endeavors of any publication. Without those ad sales generating revenue, the price of a newspaper would be prohibitively expensive and reduce circulation rates in an industry that is already struggling.

Still, you do have a great point. Newspapers should take care not to lose the reputation for being objective and that is easy to do with advertorials -- slapping a disclaimer on them stating they are a form of advertising is a policy that a lot of newspapers have adopted and it works pretty well.

You have hit on a debate that has been raging in the media for years. The editorial side of newspapers is the main thing that attracts readers, but the advertising side is what generates the revenue to make the business work. That's not to say that the editorial side is worthless -- putting together great news boosts circulation rates and those rates allow advertisers to charge more money and bring more revenue into the business. So, newspapers have an interest in keeping the price readers pay to purchase publications low and generating quality articles that are popular with people -- the more papers that are sold, the higher ad rates can be.

The advertising and editorial sides of newspapers might not like each other all that much, but they do need each other. Each side is very important to the success of any publication. Advertorials generate revenue and are, therefore, useful in furthering the objectives of a newspaper. Still, readers need to be told they are reading an advertisement when looking at an advertorial.


No, companies don't expect people to know he difference between an advertorial and objective news content. That's the point of an advertorial -- it is supposed to fool people into thinking they are reading a news item instead of an advertisement.

Newspapers ought to ban these things. They run counter to the notion that journalism should convey independent information to readers and cheapen the industry to the point where media outlets become cogs in a distasteful marketing machine.

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    • An advertorial is a paid placement in a magazine or other printed publication.
      By: Rido
      An advertorial is a paid placement in a magazine or other printed publication.
    • A review of a local restaurant might be considered an advertorial.
      By: Andres Rodriguez
      A review of a local restaurant might be considered an advertorial.