In a surprising twist for the advertising industry, the hottest new model being developed by digital ad platforms is flipping the historic model between advertising and content: Instead of editorial or entertainment content being a conduit to distribute advertising, advertising is becoming a means for distributing content. The latest manifestation of this trend comes from Kontera, a company that helped pioneer the field of so-called “in-text” advertising, which today will unveil an ambitious new initiative enabling advertisers to pull any form of content -- including “owned,” professionally produced or user-generated -- directly into some new, dynamically served advertising units.
Kontera calls the effort a “content activation platform,” and it is powered by a sophisticated semantic technology it developed that crawls millions of professionally produced and user-generated pages of content on the Web and associates, and filters them based on their contextual relevance to a brand’s advertising message. The platform enables advertisers and agency executives to pull that content directly into real-time ads served on publishers' pages.
Kontera's CEO Yoav Shaham says the ads need to follow rigorous business rules protecting the rights of copyright holders and individual users posting comments and content on social media platforms, but the goal is to augment an advertiser’s own message dynamically with relevant content. In many cases, Shaham said the content will draw on a marketer’s owned content. But in its most extreme examples, the system will enable marketers to pull an individual user’s own words directly into an ad. To date, Kontera is primarily working with Twitter feeds to power the user-generated component (see sample below), but it’s not inconceivable in this scenario that an individual user could tweet a comment relevant to a brand, have Kontera’s system filter and pull their tweet into an ad that is served to them based on their own relevance, effectively enabling the user to target themselves with their own content.
Kontera’s platform is the latest in a series of progressions by online ad platforms to bring dynamic content into online display ads, including super-rich ad formats like those developed by Pictela, SayMedia, and Spongecell. Recently, online tech and lifestyle blog network NetShelter began rolling out a similar feature dubbed InPowered that will pull third-party content -- typically a blogger’s posts -- that is relevant to an advertiser’s message directly into their dynamically served display ads.
Peyman Nilforoush, founder and CEO of NetShelter, says the move is the next logical progression of so-called “earned media” because it enables brands to tap into the most relevant comments and content objective third parties are posting about their brands directly into their own ads, making the advertising more relevant, more likely to be engaged and even redistributed.
While the jury may still be out in terms of how individual users react to the progression, at least one marketer is a big fan of Kontera’s approach.
"We believe that using compelling content to connect with consumer passion points is a significant ingredient in the future of digital marketing," said Linda Boff, executive director of global digital marketing at GE. "We've been moving in this direction for some time, and our recent HealthyShare initiative around the Olympics shows how consumers will rally and connect with a brand provided content for its intrinsic value."