The good news: The proliferation of new ad platforms and formats has created a lot of opportunities for publishers.
The bad news: The proliferation of new ad platforms and formats has created tons of confusion and a whole new set of challenges.
The confusion and the challenges have to do with the fact that what publishers, marketers, and consumers want aren't necessarily in sync; sometimes, they're completely at odds. Some ad platforms, for instance, might favor certain publisher objectives, such as boosting revenue (in the short-term, at least) while complicating the user experience (UX), thereby alienating the consumer.
So what do publishers want? Generally speaking, premium-quality ads that deliver contextual relevance, high-quality creative, and innovative design in a way that boosts the value of not only the ad inventory but also the content, leading to an enjoyable user experience overall.
But what counts as "premium" ad inventory?
That, of course, varies from publisher to publisher—and some publishers will insist that all their inventory is premium. The short answer we might be able to agree on is that a premium ad is any type of ad that helps a brand's message stand out to the audience through superior design and delivery methods. And preferably superior design and delivery methods that are somewhat, or entirely, unique to the publisher (you might even call them bespoke ad formats).
Examples include native ads, rich-media ads, visual-format ads such as video, and ads in nontraditional placements (which can help publishers further monetize without cramming in more banner ads), such as in-image ads—all of which, when done right, can command higher prices and increase revenue by giving brands a better spotlight. Every brand wants to stand out, after all.
But sometimes "standing out" is an invitation to backlash. If a brand is put in a spotlight that consumers find glaring or intrusive—think of an interstitial or takeover ad that goes on for too long and seems impossible to close or minimize—that can create a negative impression around not only the brand but also the publisher. Not to mention... Facebook and Google "punish" negative ad experiences by making any associated content harder to find.