We all like to read stories. And, all articles, even technical magazine articles, are just that: stories with a beginning, plot (the problem) and an end (solution). Now, imagine your favorite story — preferably a mystery novel with a title like "The Killer had no Face." Next, turn to page one, and there you read, "the killer was the receptionist." Go on, read the rest, will you? Why read the mystery novel if there is already no mystery in it?
This is exactly what an advertorial does. It gives out the ending — a happy one, admittedly, from the very beginning. Although in theory it is interesting to read about the technical aspects of a commercial product or service — albeit such interest is shared mostly among competitors and current users — it turns out readers remain indifferent. In other words, not many want to read in the form of an advertorial article what they already have seen in numerous marketing materials freely available throughout the Internet, or handed out at conferences, meetings, sales visits and such other promotional events. Think about it: have you ever encountered a negative advertorial?
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You may also want to consider that modern magazine and website readers are not what many used to call a "captive audience." Modern readers read specific articles because they chose to, not because they have to do so. And, keep in mind, there is no dearth of information in our age, which, when considered along the limited time we all have to devote to reading for our work, we would rather spend such valuable time where we receive the highest value in return. Modern readers do not just read; they invest their time expecting the highest return on investment.
This reasoning perhaps explains why articles with real value to the reader always rank high in readership statistics. In the digital world we all live in, such things are easy to know. Of course, real value is a subjective term, which, in my biased opinion, should be seen from the perspective of the reader and not from the person who signs an article.
At the end, you may want to ask what readers value most. I still have not solved this mystery, but I can offer my experiences so far. Readers value original content; they appreciate someone who takes a personal position on a subject — based on balanced experiences, research and education; and, above all, they respect a sense of practicality that resonates with their everyday problems.