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Guest Post: The Link Between Online Advertising and PR

For some time now, marketers have been watching digital media blur the lines between disciplines. In today’s guest post, Jonathan Gardner, director of communications for Vibrant, discusses why PR pros should continue to be mindful what’s happening in the online advertising world and how it will impact public relations. Vibrant is an online tech company that “aligns” words with video and other content across the Web. Its clients include Microsoft and Unilever.

“This year will bring ‘super-relevant’ dynamic ads with custom content that changes based on the content of a site’s page,” Gardner writes.

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Why You Need to Care What’s Happening in Online Advertising

Going into 2011, it is clear that the worlds of online advertising and marketing are being shaped by tremendous forces. But why should anyone outside of advertising care? Because in our experience, none of the disciplines live in isolation: developments in advertising, communications, and PR all resonate with the others in the marketing universe.

In 2011, we think there are phenomena that are of particular relevance to those throughout marketing and communications: the continuing debate over online privacy (“do not track”) and the evolution of content and social media.

Consumers will need to decide what information they want marketers to have in exchange for access to content and advertising that is relevant to their wants and needs. As Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg put it, the public is unclear if privacy is still a “social norm.” And while government debate over online privacy continues, the industry is advancing an agenda of self-regulation. There is widespread agreement that there needs to be increased transparency in how marketers engage in behavioral targeting.

Whatever the outcome of the privacy issue, marketers are looking beyond behavioral to contextual technologies, which still allow precise targeting at scale. We see surging interest in a whole slate of new contextual marketing innovations that use banner ads, rich media, and video, along with established in-text advertising. This year will bring “super-relevant” dynamic ads with custom content that changes based on the content of a site’s page.

Smart communicators know the new world of content is defined by opportunities – all the new channels for content and the evolution of consumer product companies as “content producers.” PR professionals are stepping up to put in practice what they preach: using social to grow the network effect of communications content, within and beyond their organizations, in B2B and B2C, in every marketing channel. We’ll see amped-up integration of social-sharing and recommendation tools that bridge content and ads, such as toolbars, which have already made inroads with publishers.

As media and technology converge across devices and platforms, the content and channels are crossing boundaries and borders. And so for advertising and communications, what happens in one area will surely be impacting the other in 2011 more than ever before.

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