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Brands are increasingly embracing content marketing, behaving like publishers for their owned and earned media in today’s digital world.  Coca-Cola’s “Liquid and Linked” video (YouTube) highlights this shift from creative excellence to content excellence. The rise of Twitter and Facebook, examples of earned media, helped brands discover the power of real-time, stream-based marketing seeded with interactive content, videos, and hooks to lure the consumer. Within their owned media, brands are also doubling down on content-led marketing on their brand sites, regularly engaging in syndication deals with major content providers.

But paid media remains an island representing a focus on creative in an environment that demands real-time, content-based marketing. Why is it that a high school intern can update a Facebook fan page, but it is a major undertaking for a brand to stream dynamic content into paid media placements? The net effect of this disconnect is that paid media performance continues to be at odds with the trend towards content marketing, and therefore suffers from dwindling performance.

Publishers are reinventing paid media with native ad formats, where the ad is programmatically connected to the underlying publisher platform. This is a key trend.  Meanwhile, brands are realizing that content marketing will require the ability to publish not only to owned and earned media, but also to paid media.

Paid media publishing will require a fundamental reset in the definition of paid media units from fixed assets to essentially mini-web pages capable of being easily updated with fresh, relevant, stream-based content.  The result is that brands publish fresh, engaging content into online ads that reach consumers anywhere on the web where they are browsing.  As Coke notes, brands will need to launch campaigns without creative or perhaps without even a fixed plan, and instead bring the day-to-day, real-time nature of social execution to bear on paid media.

Publishing to paid media is a logical and necessary extension of content marketing.  A brand’s website is highly trusted, and like with social media, paid media publishing builds on that trust at scale. Paid media publishing aggregates audiences and promotes relevant information.  It empowers brands to pull in consumers through engaging content in places where they are on the internet.  Just as earned media management drove the need for solutions like Buddy Media and Vitrue, so too will paid media publishing lead to the rise of significant new companies and services.

Brands see that content marketing and paid media publishing are the next frontier, empowering brands to attract consumers via timely and relevant content, just like the best publishers do.

Follow Will Price (@pricew) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.