Today's display ads can be some of the most effective vehicles for content marketing. (See live ad below for interactive functionality.)Content marketing, in which advertisers create the sorts of digital content (articles, videos, infographics, etc.) that resonate with their target consumers, has been growing by leaps and bounds. Although its impact is more difficult to measure, the genuine utility and entertainment that content can provide strengthen the perception a consumer has of a brand.

The difficulty for many advertisers in extracting the full potential value of content marketing, however, is one of reach. Enticing consumers to opt in to owned media subscriptions (liking a Facebook page, subscribing to newsletters or RSS, following on Twitter) can only get you so far. Earned media has considerably fewer options to share content. Where does an interested advertiser find new, receptive consumers that could enjoy their brand content?

Digital advertising.

While most still consider display advertising as a way to capture users' attention and encourage a tiny percentage of them to click off, this conceptualization is far too limited for 2013. Display ads can do far more than distract users and entice (trick?) them to click. In fact, they are rapidly becoming replacements for the landing pages that provide direct value to users.

Consider this concept ad embedded above. It provides access to tweets, videos, and blog posts relevant to those interested in technology and education all within the ad itself. And through a backend integration with Twitter, interested users can not only consume the sort of information they like via this ad, they can also join in the conversation directly...all without leaving the page they had intended to stay on.

No longer constrained by digital ad technology, an advertiser can vastly expand the scope of their content's audience. Paid media provides almost limitless touchpoints for an advertiser with a good idea of where potential consumers are living online; in fact, the only real limitation is budget. By creating an ad unit that delivers the kinds of content that users are inclined to enjoy, advertisers can begin the sorts of engagement that enlarge their sales funnel.