Advertorials: the 5 Winning Elements for Advertising Success

The best type of advertisement … one that actually gets the phone ringing … is an advertorial. This case study article shows you the five key elements for advertorial success.


We were recently asked to create a full-page advert in a local community paper for one of our clients. The newspaper is delivered free to local households, so has a wide circulation. It has been a steady provider of leads for the company for some years, but this advertorial-style advertisement ratcheted that up considerably. [You can see the full advertorial here. Or view it at the bottom of this page.]

What made the advertorial work so well? Five components which all came together in exactly the right way to give great results.

The first element was the text. We chose a subject that affected many people, text box iconbut which is poorly understood, and wrote an article that demystified the issue. We gave it a great headline that pulled people in. We included quotes from the business owners which showed them as credible, responsible and caring. And, we used bullet points to make the subject easier to understand. The text was the dominant and largest element on the page.

The second element was great photos. The main photo (placed in the centre ofphoto montage the page) was of the business owners and showed them to be down-to-earth, approachable and nice. Putting faces to your business name is an excellent idea if those faces project the right image. It could actually harm the business, however, if they don’t. An example would be someone smoking, with a wine glass in their hand, or standing over dead wild animals they have shot as trophies.

In addition to the people photos, there were three images of the work the company had done. These featured at the top of the page, were colourful, carried explanatory captions that included calls to action and were excellent advertisements for the company’s work.

The third element was a large advertisement predominately placed. Impossible to miss and in the company’s well-known and easily recognised corporate colours – red and green. It stood out as a great contrast to the editorial.

sidebar exampleThe fourth element was a sidebar that contained bullet points of the main part of the story. This was printed in a contrasting colour to the other elements on the page, making it stand out.

The fifth element was the placement of the advertisement in the newspaper. It was on a right-hand page immediately after the middle of the paper. In order to specify a certain position in a newspaper a premium is usually charged but sometimes you just get lucky! Being on a right-hand page has traditionally been preferred to the left because of the visibility factor.


The paper had only been out for a few hours when the phone began ringing with customers wanting quotes for work. The level of inquiry was higher than normal and continued for well over a week.

But there were also other positive results, that had not been expected, or even considered. The first of these was the reaction of other people in the business’s industry. The subject – in this case, health and safety – was treated in a way that gave answers to questions other professionals were asking but didn’t know how to find out. This demonstrated the business is at the top of their game, of being in the know, of having done their homework. And, the fact that they were prepared to share the results made them look good.

The second unexpected reaction was that of the newspaper’s staff. They began to use the advert as an example of how to create a great advertorial, showing it to other advertisers, some of whom would potentially be clients of the business. This was additional exposure no-one had predicted and was the offline equivalent of a post going viral.

Points to consider

If you are thinking of using advertorial to market your business, there are some considerations to take into account.

The first is that your text should be professionally written. In this example, we wrote the text in a journalistic style. This made it read like a normal newspaper article, cleverly disguising the fact it was actually an advertisement. Trying to do this yourself is almost impossible as it is very difficult to be objective about your own business.

The cost of advertorials can put advertisers off. In this case, however, the price of the full page was $600 less than if they had bought 4 quarter-page advertisements individually. For just 2.5 times the cost, they got 4 times the value.

One of the downsides of advertorials is that are not as effective if the space is too small. You need at least a half page, but often a full page, to be able to include all the elements listed here. But that can be countered with frequency: small amounts of text, published weekly or fortnightly, can overcome the lack of space. This works well for businesses that want to feed their sales pipeline on a regular basis rather than in one major hit. But it works perfectly when used in conjunction with an event.

If you are thinking of using advertorial for your marketing, make sure you consult with a professional in order to get all the elements right. You will need professional quality photos and to work closely with the publishing team so they can get you the best placement, and make sure all elements are correctly placed on the page.

If you would like help in creating an advertorial that works for you, please contact us.

Below is the advertorial discussed in the article above. To view it full size, click here.

4 Corners Property Ltd advertorial