ad tech

The Power of Stories: Balancing Publishers and Marketers

John Weisgerber Headshot (3)

By: John Weisgerber, SVP Sales, GumGum


I love bringing stories to life. Not in the sense of animating text, but rather in taking a message and providing the structure and platform for it to be fully realized. This is what initially drew me to content publishers. When I was working for a fashion publisher, I found that the element of visual storytelling that drives the fashion industry was also a critical component in effectively advertising on those sites. When a customer goes to a premium publication, whether it’s digital, print or even television, they expect a certain experience. A lot of people don’t realize this, but the ads are a big part of the experience. When they don’t fit, the publisher’s fluidity is disrupted.


Ads Are Part Of The Publisher’s Experience

It’s no secret that today’s web users have access to more content than they know what to do with, and this means that crafting a coherent story is that much more important. People invest themselves in stories, and that investment comes with a certain amount of trust. Content publishers, especially premium publishers, know that it’s that trust that keeps their readers loyal, and so they strive to create an experience that satisfies it.


There’s nothing quite like working for a content publisher because, simply put, they’re the best at content! They have a point of view that they express with real substance that inspires interest and emotional investment all on it’s own. Applying this kind of thinking to advertising, though, is something that I think is very exciting, especially when you look at ways for advertisers to become part of the story instead of just observers sitting on the edge.


For The Story To Be Complete, The Ads Must Be Relevant

The more I dove into this idea of using the ad experience to balance an overall story, the more I became drawn to the technology that allowed the pieces to fit together. The advancements that have been made in advertising technology, even just in the past few years, are incredible. To many, these advancements meant lots of numbers, spreadsheets and data. To me, all those excel files were roadmaps showing you how to weave together a complete story. With today’s algorithms, you can actually deliver native ads programmatically, giving you the personalized targeting power of programmatic, real-time delivery, and combining it with the high-quality content of native. This can be used to craft ads that fits into the browsing experience like a glove, to the benefit of both publishers and customers.


While I could have stayed with more traditional content publishers, I wanted to be part of something new. I wanted to be part of the tech world that was empowering advertisers with the ability to really contribute to the content experience. There are some on the outside who think of ad tech as something that takes away from content, but with the right tools ads can harness the power of content publishers in a way that enhances the experience for everyone.


Today, we hear and see so much animosity from users about digital ads and digital marketers because they’ve had bad experiences with ads that completely remove them from their content’s story. Bringing the advertisements within the content, however, allows for advertisers to tell a story within a story in a much more relevant and honest way. It also allows publishers, who have to rely on ads to pay the bills, to present their sites in a way in which the ads don’t detract from the overall story of the content.


I believe that publishers, advertisers and customers alike can all come together to be part of one story, one message. Content publishers have the power to tell amazing stories, and advertisers have the power to leverage those stories and turn them into customer action, but only if it is done in a way that treats the customer with respect. To do that requires keeping the ad experience relevant with the content story. When that level of balance is achieved, everyone ends up winning because the customer becomes included in the relationship. Customers then feel more empowered, content publishers feel more free to craft their stories, and advertisers feel more satisfied with their expanded reach.
In the end, telling a good content story means making sure everything fits, ads included. To put it another way, you could have the nicest pair of pants in the world, but if they don’t fit, you’ll just be walking around with your pants down.