by Ed Barnes, Senior Director, Product & Engineering, Pictela/AOL Networks
Research shows that rich, interactive ads with advanced functionality and highly relevant content are key to capturing the attention of audiences who increasingly tune out static banners. Assets such as striking photos, compelling videos and interactive social apps are great building blocks for high-engagement premium ad formats, which can in turn help advertisers maximize campaign ROI and publishers drive up sales and increase yield.
What if you don't have a bevy of whiz-bang developers on staff who are proficient with HTML5, Flash and the coding expertise necessary to build out a killer digital ad concept? Today there are standardized templates, workflow tools, and other innovative technologies on the market that enable "plug and play" creation of rich formats, and these tools can help all levels of users--from novices to developer pros--leverage brand assets to create premium ads. Here are five ways that technology can help make the process of launching eye-catching and engaging ads simpler and easier:
1. Self Serve Ad Creation, No Coding Required
Think a digital ad that incorporates rich media like video, polls and live data feeds will take heavy design and development resources, multiple external suppliers and weeks to create? This is not necessarily so.
The evolution of sophisticated content management and "self serve" ad building tools is democratizing access to powerful ways to reach audiences with engaging digital creations. For example, platforms that provide users with standard templates for premium formats (like the IAB's Rising Stars, or the 300x1050 Devil unit) make it possible bring rich ads to life without coding experience, or even a great deal of technical expertise. Essentially, users can drag and drop their brand assets-whether photos, videos, high quality graphic design and more-into the templates and build a beautiful ad in minutes. It's kind of like using automated tax preparation software instead of manually calculating all your deductions by hand or hiring an accountant to do it for you. (But, hopefully, more fun.)
2. Elevate Specialized/Custom Development to a New Level
Templates can certainly make premium ad creation a whole lot faster and more efficient, but what if you do have top geek talent on staff and want to build something uniquely your own; a format that wins your agency creative awards, for example, or one that attracts big brand advertising dollars to your site? Technologies that assist with premium format development can also empower expert in-house creative teams, designers and developers to really stretch their abilities and become even more innovative. For example, imagine being able to download and use components of code that orchestrate some of the more basic aspects of ad mechanics, like toolbar functionality or movement. When your best designers and developers no longer need to start "from scratch," they are able to devote more time and energy to the truly original aspects of their custom creation.
3. Automate Collaboration
It's no big secret that the review and approval process related to launching premium ads that incorporate rich media can be tedious, time consuming and inefficient, often requiring a lot of phone calls, file sharing and emailing back and forth between designers, producers, clients and traffickers. Because of the typically disjointed and highly manual nature of this process, errors, delays and miscommunication are common.
It helps enormously to have everyone "on the same page," and this is where workflow technologies that centralize and automate review and approval steps can greatly improve the ease, quality and speed of collaboration. When stakeholders can view, make changes, test, share and sign off on formats with a click of their mouse, they can save a great deal of time and effort, shrinking a process cycle that can take several days (even weeks) to just hours.
4. Launch New Capabilities, Fast
One of the advantages of using a technology platform to build digital ads is that complementary capabilities (like advanced analytics and reporting, for example) are often built in. This can save a lot of headaches for advertisers and publishers, since they don't have to build capabilities themselves or integrate a third party solution. When it comes to premium formats, the requirements of advertisers and publishers are continually evolving. Integrating cool new features into ads-like dynamic retargeting or cross-platform capabilities like responsive design-doesn't necessarily mean you need to re-build or re-code. Your technology solution just might be able to do it for you.
5. Unleash Greater Creativity
At the end of the day, one of the primary purposes of technology is to make our lives simpler, easier and more efficient. The purpose of solutions designed to aid in the development of premium ad formats is no different. When some of the drudge work around coding, debugging, testing and collaboration is automated, advertisers and publishers alike can direct more of their resources towards cutting-edge creativity--the kind that wins awards, captures attention and gets results.
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