These days, there are so many marketing buzzwords and technical jargons tossed around by industry professionals, it’s enough to make anyone’s head spin. You’re constantly told that you need to jump on board with one advertising trend or another, but what does it all mean?

How can you know which new approach is right for you? More importantly, how can you do it right when the differences are hard to distinguish?

Perhaps one of the hardest new trends to keep up with is advertising through content.

In 2013, native advertising took hold in the marketing world. Still, the differences between native ads and advertorials continues to bewilder most industry professionals. Here’s a look at the core differences between these two popular strategies and how you can maximize your impact with both.


The easiest way to describe an advertorial is to think of it like an infomercial. If you’ve ever stayed up late watching television, chances are you’ve stumbled on a “tv show” all about the Ninja blender. That’s the tv version of an advertorial.

This style of advertising became popular in the mid-1940s. In the 1960s, advertorials were considered common practice. In the 1980s, the television industry jumped on board creating the similar approach of infomercials. In the 1990s, radios also jumped on board, designing talk shows as infomercials.

Although advertorials are used in multiple media outlets, print is the most common and most popular.

In print, advertorials are clear promotions for a product or service. They’re written in article format with the intent to pull out the benefits of the product and sell something. The reader knows that there’s a sales pitch coming from the instant she starts reading the text. These types of ads are less “in your face” which makes them quite a bit easier to swallow. In turn, the advertisers have an easier time of getting their message across to their buyer.

This style of advertising started to decline in popularity and effectivity in the early 2000s. When it did, advertisers found a new way to bring it into the modern age. The new form of advertorials are called native advertising.

Native Advertising

Native advertising is the even gentler, more modern version of an advertorial.

In 2013, when native advertising started to rise in popularity, the Harvard Business Review did some research to try to define what differentiated this strategy from an advertorial. The conclusion? Not much.

The main difference is the way the user experiences the advertisement.

Native advertising is meant to make the reader feel like they’re gaining some valuable knowledge. They’re not meant to make the reader feel as if they have to buy at the end of the article. The calls-to-action are subtle. Instead, the content is more focused on helping the reader rather than selling something.

What’s Right for You?

Both advertorials and native advertising have their place. Advertorials are good for specific situations where you know the audience is expecting a sales pitch. However, if you’re introducing a product or service, or just want to increase your brand awareness, native advertising is a more sensible approach.

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