The display ad isn’t a file anymore. It’s a content container, bought real-estate for a brand’s message in front of a specific audience.

And the ad ecosystem has become unbelievably fluid. With just a few clicks, marketers can make rapid changes to audience, content and cost. So why are we still trafficking banners like it’s 2003?

It’s time display advertising follow in the footsteps of blogs and websites, and to do this, ad servers must become content management systems. This is a very powerful and necessary step in paid media.

Definition: A content management system (CMS) is a web-based application or software that allows for creating, editing, publishing, reporting on and distributing content and information, allowing non-technical users to update their content without any programming knowledge. Examples of popular CMSs include services like WordPress, Drupal and Squarespace.


Paid Media Publishing

The traditional banner ad model is giving way to a world of dynamic, content-driven ads that are not just trafficked, but published by advertisers. Running campaigns on paid media has become as straightforward as adding content on social media and blogs.

These advances in distribution have come in step with a change in brand strategy. Marketers are shifting more energy and resources toward content production. Brands are becoming publishers. And consumers are responding favorably to being entertained and informed by content. In content-rich ads, click-through rates are finally improving after the steady decline of the predictable and increasingly ignored banner.

By publishing great content to paid media, site visitors can engage with brand content without having to disrupt their experience and jump off the site they’re viewing.

But to enable content-driven advertising to thrive, it’s imperative to simplify campaign management. Building, trafficking and reporting on ads should have as robust an underlying framework as any blogging or website platform. 

Just like Squarespace is a website builder, blogging platform and hosting service, ad platforms must allow ad building, publishing and serving from a centralized content management system.

Necessary Ad Platform Features:

1. Asset Management

Advertisers need to be able to store, reuse and edit brand assets and product information on the same platform where they build ads. There is simply too much complexity and repetition currently involved in ad creation and optimization, especially given how many marketers test ad variations against each other.

2. Real-time Publishing

 Ads must be able to be updated instantly, without re-cutting tags or re-trafficking. You can post to Facebook or edit your blog in real-time, and advertising shouldn’t be any different.


3. Proper measurement

Content-rich ads require metrics beyond the click-through. Advertisers must be able to understand engagement in a way that makes sense to the type of content they are providing, whether it be videos, articles, or product galleries. As marketers adopt a process of paid media publishing, CTR is no longer the only meaningful metric and measuring and optimizing for engagement will result in more telling and actionable analytics.


4. Social and video

Ad platforms must make the web’s most popular features easily available in display ads, notably video and social media because users enjoy engaging with social and video content more than anything else on the web.


5. More real-estate

The content-rich approach requires ads to offer a larger canvas. Features like expansions, page slides, and background takeovers are necessary to give life to the content.

6. API connectivity

Marketers will need to connect their ads to other services they use, and the ad platform should offer opportunities for connections, whether it be for content, functionality, or reporting. Through APIs, ad servers can give advertisers access to the same services they use on their other web properties.