Traditionally, content marketing has been limited by scale.  The number of people who are exposed to a brand’s blog post is limited to its blog readership, and the number of people who see a video on Facebook is limited by its reach or fan base.  

If a brand wants to create content and have it reach new audiences, or existing audiences at multiple touch points, paid media publishing in digital ads offers the most relevant, scalable reach.

But don’t online ads underperform?  

Traditional creative in paid media channels have very poor performance, with click-through rates on standard display ads at an abysmal 0.05%.  Furthermore, consumers don’t trust paid media.  A recent Nielsen consumer survey asked, “To what extent do you trust the following forms of advertising?”  Not surprisingly, display ads were one of the least trusted forms of media with only a 33% responding with “Trust Completely/Somewhat.”

Compare the lack of trust in display ads to one of the most trusted forms of advertising: branded sites.  Branded sites were on par with editorial content, each with 58% of people who trust the media.  Why is it that the same brand’s display ads are grossly mistrusted, but a brand’s own website evokes consumer confidence?  

The answer is because paid media taxes people.  

It interrupts users and makes them suffer a little in order to get to the real content that they want to see.  It holds users captive and forces them to watch a 15 second pre-roll ad on YouTube before they get to view the clip that they originally came for.

As publishers get more impressions from mobile devices, that tax becomes even more burdensome due to the smaller form factor of mobile devices.  For advertising to be successful on mobile devices, ad content, especially in mobile devices, must shift from driving clicks to driving value.  Brands are trying to adapt to the the increasing amount of content being consumed on multiple devices, but the mobile ad model has not been set yet.  Brands have not found a way to convincingly advertise in a way that isn’t intrusive.

Now, paid media publishing offers an alternative to taxing people in the existing broken system.

Ads can be interesting, can pull audiences to engage, and can offer relevant content to consumers.  Display ads now go beyond static creative and a tagline, and are ripe with functionality, including content from Facebook, Twitter, polls, videos, and more.  In this way, paid media leverages much of what has been proven in earned media.  If a customer makes a video about a brand that suddenly goes viral, brand teams can leverage the funny, unexpected, and entertaining content by promoting the ad in paid media to extend the reach of the clip.

What are some of the factors that determine success in paid media publishing?  First and foremost, brands must offer compelling content.  Beyond this, they must also regularly update messaging, actively participate in conversations, measure engagement results, and respond to customers.  These are all practices that brands are already deploying with social media and need to be applied to paid media to encourage two-way conversations with customers.

Publishing to paid media is a logical extension of content marketing.  A brand’s website is highly trusted, and paid media publishing scales that trust, just as it does in social media.  Paid media publishing aggregates audiences and promotes relevant information, rather than taxing audiences for the content that they really want to consume.  It’s empowering, it’s what people want, and it’s the next generation of display advertising.