Direct Response Copywriter on Advertorials

The more things change, the more they stay the same ... right?

Before the Internet was around, I used to write advertorials for magazines and newspapers. An advertorial, if you’re not familiar with the concept, is an article that’s really an advertisement. Or you could view an advertorial as an advertisement that looks like an article. You will usually see the words “advertorial” or “paid advertisement” somewhere on the page. You would usually see a 500 word article plus a couple of photos.

Advertorials were often part of a “special advertising section” but could also be stand-alones. In print, advertorials were effective and they helped drive leads and sales. Advertorials somewhat disappeared when online advertising got going. Advertisers simply sent traffic straight to landing pages and squeeze pages.

However, about five years ago, the advertorial started to make a comeback. Why? Two reasons.

One … Google and the networks mandated them (in a way). Two … they improved conversion.

The CTA in the advertorial is usually to get to the sales page. As a result, traffic going to the sales page is warmed up and this increases conversion. As a direct response copywriter, I write a TON of advertorials. One of the best aspects of the advertorial is testing.

For one client, I wrote close to 500 versions of an advertorial … constantly changing headlines, photos, and other copy elements. Most advertorials failed to improve conversion over the control but the few that worked made a huge difference to the bottom line.

The real key to advertorials is testing all the many different copy approaches. For example I once used the testimonial approach and it produced a jump in conversion of over 30%. That’s a big result.

I liked writing advertorials before the arrival of the Internet. I like writing them today … especially because I enjoy all the testing. Every direct response copywriter needs to understand how to write advertorials … then test like crazy.


I'm a direct response copywriter. I write direct response copy for clients around the world. Enter your information to the right for my free series: Seven Steps to High Converting Copy. Or contact me here if you have a project you'd like me to quote.