Column: Selling Down the Rabbit Hole

By George Farris

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Guess what? “Hollywood’s Exotic Secret for Weight Loss” is no longer a secret. Slimming Research Group News reports there is a substance that reduces your belly, arm and back fat while you sleep!

This “life-changing” substance is found in a product called Puravive. All you have to do is add some Puravive to a half cup of tea before bed. It will actually EAT your belly fat. That’s not all. While Puravive normally costs $59 a bottle, you can get it for just $39 a bottle if you buy six bottles – today.

Wait a minute. Was I reading an article or an advertisement? Actually, it’s an “advertorial.”

You’ll find them in traditional media too. But advertorials really took off with online platforms and it’s easy to see why. The headlines and photos make them tough to resist. We often head down the rabbit hole known as advertorials despite the tags declaring them as “sponsored.”

An advertorial is paid advertising designed to look like journalistic content. It can come in print or video form and is designed to reach a specific target market.

But they also raise ethical questions for publishers, especially if the paid content is viewed as contrary to the audience’s values.


A study by Harvard Business Review found that the average cost for an advertorial campaign is $54,014. Advertorial platforms claim its format increases engagement and higher click-through and purchase rates. They also say advertorials are an easy way to introduce a brand to consumers without a hard sell or annoying pop-up ads.

By blending promotional and informative content, advertisers can engage with consumers while creating value for the readers. Once engaged, a well-crafted advertorial can attract more leads at a lower cost than typical display ads.

According to a report by, compared to traditional display ads on relevant sites, advertorials have three unique advantages.

First, they get past ad blockers. That’s important because about 25% of internet users block advertising.

Second, advertorials get more engagement than display ads. Since advertorials are less intrusive than banner or display ads, consumers are more likely to interact with them.

Last, they provide more space to sell potential buyers on your product. Compared to a search or display ad, advertorials offer more room to connect with customers. You can tell a story and help customers understand a complex product.

If your ad response rate is dropping, or your product needs a longer explanation than you can fit in traditional ads, you might want to try advertorials. Done right, they might increase sales.

Meanwhile, if anyone wants you to share Hollywood’s Exotic Secret for Weight Loss, tell them to buy their own bottle of Puravive.

George Farris is CEO of Farris Marketing. Email