Definition of an Advertorial

You are an artist, label or promoter, have a record and approach a magazine as you think they will be interested in your release.

You may even call them first to speak with a member of staff or writer there to assess their possible level of interest, and explain the background to what may have taken much blood, sweat, tears & time to put together. The artist has put his or her heart & soul into making the record, most likely spent money they can ill afford on recording, manufacturing, design and many other things that go into releasing a record. But now its ready, you're excited about getting it out into the world, and think the magazine will be interested

Within a minute of you explaining why this is the greatest record you have ever produced, you are met with one question : "That sounds good - do you have an advertising budget?"

You are about to be pitched the idea of an advertorial. It's the bastardization of 2 words, advert and editorial. It is a word conjured up by the very few to give the impression of being an industry standard way of going about things, and "everyone's doing it".

They aren't

It is the written press equivalent of payola. You may also be met with the term "Artist Led & Funded Content" which is an Emperors New Clothes way of trying to give the impression of artistic control, and that they are in some way backing the release in this way.

Traditional advertising is a standard way for anyone to highlight their product, and there's nothing wrong with that. Advertorials are a completely different matter. If you are thinking about proceeding with an advertorial which is basically to pay a magazine for an advert in return for an interview or review, on the basis it comes under your advertising budget & effectively brings you more, take the following into consideration:

1) Any such magazine will be known for this. So coverage in it has no editorial impact, there is no belief that the publication is really endorsing your release, but it is endorsing your cheque. So in essence, it carries no influence with other members of the media. "I was featured in X". Yes, because you paid for it

2) This will be a "great opportunity" to be seen by a huge number of people around the country. "We have 100,000 published every month distributed nationally". Look into those figures. If they produce a physical version of their magazine, they may be a free publication distributed throughout the country. But look at their regular content. Do the artists they cover have any real import outwith a specific city or are they mainly representing a particular localized scene? Have you heard of any of the artists they cover? Stores may well supply them as there are no costs to them to do so, but do people nationwide read them? Are they relevant to the areas they distribute to?

3) If the magazine is only online, ask for evidence of their hit numbers and have this independently verified. Ask them to provide examples of past cases where the advertorials, or worse still, straight "pay for features" cases made a significant difference to those artists' careers. Then contact the artists for verification

4) There are many hard copy magazines still in existence who do not go down this route as they don't have to. They have interesting content, they sell their magazines in stores & the public buy them due to the content. They draw advertising because they can prove readership via sales. So editorially, they have done their homework and coverage there is done purely on the strength of a record. Most onlines do not go down this road either. Difference there being they do not have the overheads of producing a physical publication & in most cases do not pay their writers for contributions. So the idea put forward that this is becoming an industry standard is a lie.

5) Ask yourself. If a magazine has to charge to provide coverage, why is that? If they have decided to give away the magazine for free funded in this way, why is that? Demand not there to justify a cover charge for the public? In which case, what relevance do they have? If an online has to do it, not enough advertising revenue coming in? Why is that - readership figures low?

Advertorials are the exception to the rule. The vast majority of written media don't act in this way.

Remember one key factor in all of this. Without artists & labels producing music and sending to the media, the media are out a job. They have no content.

Our own position is that if a magazine suggested an advertorial, we would relay that fact to our clients while highlighting they are unlikely to be worth the coverage if they have to go down that route in the first place.

But its a free country. Make your own mind up, but take these factors into account


T : @urbanelitepr