Advertorials get innovative

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Many b-to-b publishers are finding more creative ways to package and sell advertorials, giving advertisers the ability to reach targeted audiences with specific, relevant content and, perhaps most important, content they control.

"They're tougher to sell, but the product can be more effective for advertisers and readers," said Mike Rogers, VP-strategic accounts for Reed Business Information's Licensing and Electronics Group.

He said Reed Business is selling more integrated advertorial packages that include print as well as Webcasts, microsites and other online content. He said pricing varies based on the package, circulation and other factors.

Advertorials can be particularly effective for b-to-b marketers, because the products and services being sold tend to be complicated, certainly much more so than consumer offerings.

"Integrating advertorials with online is beneficial because it allows advertisers to give a fuller description of the product features and benefits along with product demos," Rogers said.

However, he said, the integration of print advertorials with online presents some challenges for publishers. "Publishers still have to be very cautious about not crossing the line of what is perceived to be editorial," he said.

For example, he said, "Advertorials are being replaced by Webcasts, and there are no guidelines [for Webcasts] that define what is considered editorial, who determines the content, speakers, etc." At Reed, the company has a strict policy of not allowing editorial staff to write advertorials. Instead, it uses freelance writers.

"This kind of stuff is custom publishing and should not be touched by the editorial people," said Marianne Paskowski, editorial director of MultiChannel News, a Reed Business publication.

David Blaza, associate publisher of CMP Media's Electronic Engineering Times, agreed that publishers are finding more innovative ways to package advertorials. "Advertorials cover the spectrum," Blaza said. "At one end, the advertorial is produced entirely by the advertiser, and at the other, we produce it and get freelancers to write the content."

CMP also has a strict policy of not allowing its editorial staff to write advertorials. Blaza said CMP is doing more online integration with advertorials, and pricing depends on several factors.

"At EE Times, the circulation is 150,000 in the U.S. If the advertorial is very targeted, it may reach just 40,000, but it's a much more targeted audience," he said, adding: "There is a lot of research that goes into determining distribution."

Jeff Mason, VP-group publisher at Randall Publishing, which publishes Truckers News, Equipment World and other trucking and construction industry publications, said advertorials range from single-sponsor ads produced by the advertiser to multisponsor advertorials that are coproduced by the editorial and marketing teams.

Single-sponsor advertorials, which are more expensive than multisponsor advertorials, are turnkey projects in which the sales team meets with the advertiser, sets objectives and creates a unique product, Mason said. "It could be a single page to a 16-page insert," he said.

Multisponsor advertorials typically focus on an industry issue, such as how electronics are used in the trucking industry, and contain more objective editorial content, Mason said.

"The key is to make sure the information is interesting to the readers," Mason added. "Our readers are pretty sophisticated, and they can see through a sales effort versus good editorial," he said. M

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