Advertorials

If you’re considering placing an ad in a newspaper or a magazine, stop for just a moment. Have a look at the space and size you’re considering, and imagine what the space allows you to communicate. Try and visualize how your ad will stand out from the rest – or if it will at all.

Fortunately, you do have another option.

An advertorial is a marketing piece designed to look and read like an informative article – in fact, it should be an informative article. Topped by a headline that’s provocative or compelling to its intended audience, this article engages readers more than an ordinary ad nested among other ordinary ads. And because it’s no longer bound by the conventions of ad layout, you can suddenly include more information; even a relatively small space-ad can accommodate a brief article.

Most companies have some kind of video relating to their business up on their websites. Those trendy, animated videos that explain things in a fun-to-watch way are everywhere. They are excellent for explaining how things work while keeping people’s notoriously fickle attention, but a two-minute animated video can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars.

But there is an alternative that costs less and gives your brand an authoritative voice in your industry in a way that an animated video doesn’t.

Thanks to newscasts being largely unchanged since their inception on television, we’ve become accustomed over the decades to seeing a person talking authoritatively into a microphone and just accepting that what they’re saying has merit to it.

It’s this societal programming that helps targeted, advertorial videos stand out from just plain old commercials, because we’ve also become accustomed over the decades to mistrust claims made in commercials (and for good reason).

You may not know about the concept of the advertorial video because it is underutilized. In this article, I’ll explain what these videos are, why they work so well and how you can use them, in combination with specific customer segment targeting, to introduce your business to new potential clients who are in the most likely position to become paying customers.

What makes advertorial videos so great is they have the air of authority and objectivity about them because they are structured and presented like the aforementioned newscasts.

1. Advertorial vs advertisement

For big, long-established brands, advertorials aren’t necessary because people already know and trust the brand. They’ve already established a presence in their industry and they’ve got a sizeable following.

For the rest of us, advertorials help establish that coveted industry authority.

We should clearly define what we’re talking about here, first. We all know what advertisements are. They are commercials that tout your brand, how great it is, what deals you have going on, how you’re better than your competition, etc.

Advertorial videos don’t do that. What they do is report on some aspect of your business or demonstrate your expertise in your field, instilling trust in the people watching it. Their main focus isn’t on trumpeting your brand, but on teaching viewers something they didn’t previously know. Therefore, watching the videos are beneficial to the viewer. If viewers learn something from your advertorial, they are left with the feeling that they’ve actually gained something of value rather than having the feeling that they’ve lost time watching a commercial.

They are made to look like a journalism broadcast, so you have a “reporter” interviewing people and saying things about your brand in that newsy way reporters have. When people see this style of journalistic type reporting, it gives them the sense that what they’re seeing is factual.

2. Format

What advertorial videos do is promote your brand in a seemingly objective way that instills trust in consumers.

But what’s the best kind of video to make? Should it be directly about your business? Should it be a guide? Should it be more product oriented? What type of video you choose to make will be influenced by what your business is, but even more so by what benefits you can give to the consumer.

Let’s say you sell software that does a specific task, but that specific task is rather complicated. In that case, an explanatory video about not only what the software does, but what benefits it provides the user would be in order.

If you sell a product, a video that pertains to your product, but which also isn’t too sales-y is good. For these, a guide often works well, as it shows your expertise in your field. So, if you sell rugs, say, a video about how to choose a rug for a room would be good. This works for services, too. If you’re a dentist, you can make a video talking about ways to easily prevent tooth decay, with a reminder that if people do get tooth decay, it’s better to act quickly rather than waiting.

Advertorial videos give consumers something they can use while simultaneously saying to them that if they want more of this expert advice or they want to deal with a person who clearly knows what they’re doing, paying your business a visit would be a good idea.

Whatever type of video you decide to make, always start with the benefits to the customers.

3. Targeting

It’s great to have a video and all, but it’s useless if people don’t watch it. And the best way to ensure people watch it is to show it to people who will find it useful. This isn’t the spray and pray of television advertising, it’s a more concentrated effort.

You can target your video by demographics, geographics, context, hobbies and interests or some kind of combination of those.

For brick-and-mortar businesses, geographic targeting is important. If you own a shop that sells rugs in San Diego, there’s no use showing your video to someone who lives in New York or over in Europe. You can pinpoint your city or even your neighborhood as a location where your videos are shown.

If you own a store that specializes in children’s clothing in Phoenix, you can pinpoint your neighborhood, but then you can go further and target it at people between the usual parenting ages of 20-40. Taking it one step further (because not everyone in that age range will be a parent), you can then have the video only shown to people in that neighborhood, in that age range and who have recently searched for certain words. In this case, those would be words pertaining to children or parenting. Those are people who your ad will at least pertain to (although there’s no guarantee that they’ll be interested in it).

You might have to do a test run or two to see what segments are best to target, but it will be worth it in the long run to find the best combination of segments.

It doesn’t just work for brick-and-mortar businesses, either. If you sell an online service, you can use segment targeting just as well and if you are serving a niche market, you pretty much have to target that segment anyway.

4. Leads

Just getting people to watch a video is only the first step in converting them from passive video viewers to potential leads to active customers.

As support infrastructure for your video, you’ll also need a landing page that you can point people toward with a form to fill out so you can gather those potentially lucrative email addresses and other information. If you have a location, give them the information they need to find your place. They’ll be even more likely to come in if they see you’re local.

And why stop at a video? Since you know that you’ve caught their interest, you can have your banner ads target those same people so they are exposed to your brand even more.

Going back to our rug store example, that shoptargets people in a few nearby San Diego neighborhoods who have searched for keywords pertaining to interior design. At the end of the video, it has a map showing the location of the store and a link to a landing page with more rug buying tips and a form where people can enter an email address if they want to get updates about deals and sales etc. Anyone in that geographical area who was even remotely considering purchasing a rug now has the impression that the people at this store really know what they’re talking about when it comes to finding a rug for a room, plus they’re local. People who are in the market for a rug right now will head on down, seeing as how the place is nearby and people who were thinking about replacing that old rug in the living room one of these days will sign up to keep track of what sales the store has so they can take advantage of one when it comes up.

Localized, advertorial videos are great, cost-effective tools that are used relatively little. If you want to stay ahead of the game, and ahead of your competitors, they’re a tool you can use to do that. Once you get adept at using them and targeting them at your various customer segments, they will be well worth it.

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