Brands Who Are Also Publishers Also Publish Ads

Every company is a media company. You hear this line from me all the time, typically as an argument for content marketing. What I don’t often discus is how brands can also profit by running ads (often from competitors) on their brand-sponsored media properties, like Target does at

Newsosaur Alan D. Mutter, writing in Editor & Publisher, notes that most of the ads on the are related to the merchandise on the page, but the ad units available on the site are for sale to the highest bidder.

Mutter also notes that this trend is alarming for newspaper publishers, who once relied on print ads, inserts and other support from their local retailers.

By transforming themselves into publishers, the folks who formerly depended on newspapers to reach prospective customers are building direct, powerful, and sustainable connections with consumers in a strategy that is bound to reduce demand for traditional advertising.

I might add that it not just newspaper companies who stand to lose, as the demand for traditional advertising wanes. The ad business must find a sensible way to offer up better digital advertising, or the Google continue to eat everyone’s lunch with their text boxes and banner placements.

There’s a lot of noise being made about innovation and the pace of change today. But we’re still leaning on mostly static, print-like ad units from 15 years ago to get the job done. It’s a design challenge, primarily, and I don’t think it’s as hard as we’re making it out to be.



About David Burn

I wrote my first ad for a political candidate when I was 17 years old. She won her race and I felt the seductive power of advertising for the first time. Today—after working for seven agencies in five states—I am head of brand strategy and creative at Bonehook in Portland, Oregon.