Rich Media, Specifics, Part 3: Essential Online Display Advertising Technologies

Article excerpt

THANK YOU TO ALL THE PUBLISHERS WHO TOOK THE time to write in and comment, on last month's column and the success stories. I m glad the examples were of value to your operations.

Rich Media Specifics, Part 3 focuses on serving publishers who a) want to leverage their own sales force to increase revenue and profits, and b) who are able to make some investment in the infrastructure necessary to manage the essential technologies for a digital operation.

Whether you are managing a large or modest budget, there are ways to take control of your destiny.

Here are the key technologies you will need from a core operational perspective (techy term would be "The Stack"). For the sake of this column, the term "core" refers to what your operational team needs to manage the business. We will not discuss CRM or sales tools in this column, but will leave those subjects for another discussion.

Ad Server

Some of my colleagues who are highly experienced in digital would, as I do, see the discussion of the ad server as a basic technology element. No one was more excited in the mid1990s to watch providers such as Net Gravity demo how to use an ad server to make multiple jpeg ads to run in the same ad position on Yahoo!. Cool stuff and, interestingly, not much has changed in terms of the core functions of the ad server itself.

The ad server is still your central element of technology, and all the platforms that matter can serve both physical files (gift png, jpeg, swf) as well as ads hosted on another server (third-party rich media or ad tags). Leading ad servers in today's market are focusing on targeting and multi-channel distribution. Each solution is evolution based on market demand, but each is putting out some interesting features.

You can get up and running with a server that only serves files, but to attract the real ad dollars, you need a server that supports all formats that advertisers find appealing, such as video and rich media ads. If your monthly impression volumes are 5 million-10 million per month, you can do without targeting today. Larger sites leave money on the table if they do not have ad targeting that is correctly implemented from a trusted provider.

Leading providers of ad servers for media include Yahoo! APT, Google, 24/7, and Open X. Well-known CMS providers such as Atex also offer ad serving as part of their solution, which is an interesting development pointing toward convergence.

CMS (Content Hanagement System)

While once the domain of the IT side of the house, it is interesting to observe CMS providers extending their capabilities to represent more than just news-specific website publishing and content management.

It is fair to say that from 2005 to 2010, media companies were OK with CMS firms providing a traditional set of capabilities due to budget constraints. That comment was made to me and other colleagues in digital management many times during that difficult period.

Of more interest are the investments made by key industry firms to innovate while the market was not necessarily rewarding the investment in terms of immediate revenue increase for the CMS provider. …