Posted September 14, 2010 9:12 am by with 2 comments

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Marketers are wading through the many opportunities that exist in the mobile space and every day brings new shiny objects. One that received a lot of attention out of the gate is the iAd ad network from Apple. With its high production value and the “site within a site without leaving the site” approach it got everyone’s attention.

As with all things new and shiny you often have to wait until the dust settles to see what is really going on. Mobile Marketer reports from the digiday conference in New York City that at least one ad agency player, Jami Lawrence, associate director of mobile marketing at Publicis Modem, New York, may have nailed what is really going on with the iAd platform for now.

“In general we’re working with brands that have very small mobile budgets, between $20,000 and $50,000 for a campaign, so it’s not efficient for me to recommend something like iAd when I’m trying to pull maximum reach for my clients,” she said. “For iAd you have to be willing to understand you’re making an experimental splash.

“It’s really a PR move.”

Wait. What was that I just read? It was something that I am not accustomed to in the Internet marketing world. If you are not familiar with the technique that Ms. Lawrence used it’s called the truth. Well, at least it was an extreme case of honesty. Whatever you label it, this statement really does say a lot about the mobile space and how different companies are looking to capitalize on it.

Lawrence continued

….it’s a really small audience—from a scale perspective not really there,” she said. “For iAd to make sense, you have to be a client targeting an Apple techy audience, because all of the other platforms are left out—even the original iPhone and 3G are left out, and only iPod touch who have chosen to upgrade will see the iAds.”

And Mobile Marketer added for good measure

Even though Apple is planning to integrate iAd within iPad applications later this month, Apple devices still represent a minority of mobile users.

This is not a post about bashing Apple. Don’t get me wrong. They are the best in the world with their line of products. They make great products that do great things but when it comes to what is being run on those products (outside of iTunes and apps of course) they tend to stumble a bit. Is Apple really a mobile advertising platform company? Probably not. They make incredible products but they wall off the opportunity for others to play so they force themselves to be something they are not. It’s these missteps that have left the door open for the open Android market (whether that is good or bad isn’t being debated here although feel free to do so in the comments). Google sure isn’t complaining.

This current economy, which is showing little signs of life both now and in the foreseeable future, has created marketers that are being pragmatic so they work with what they have to work with. Sure, everyone wants to look cool but the cost of looking cool through the Apple iAd platform is restrictive AND the market is relatively limited for the time being. Is it true then that marketers are getting just as frugal as consumers and only buying what they can afford and what works best for them despite what the cool kids are doing?

One final assessment of the iAd opportunity surrounds metrics. The article continued

Another frequent criticism of iAd is the lack of transparency in terms of metrics.

Click-through rate is a limited metric, to say the least.

Brands care about ROI, and ad networks must prove that to satisfy advertisers, especially the big spenders.

“We don’t really care about CTR, we want to know how many people accessed the store locator of mobile Web site,” Ms. Lawrence said. “With a CPG client, we do a lot of mobile coupon distribution and we track the number of people who requested a coupon.

“There are always ROI metrics that we look at for every mobile campaign,” she said. “It really comes down to measurement and ad tracking, but there are not a lot of analytics that can be taken from iAd.

So where will the platform go from here? If the advertising buying community is already pigeon-holing the service as a PR move rather than a real cost effective ad play for clients will Apple be able to make it work? This is the kind of thing that makes this all very interesting because we have enough history to show that whiz-bang products are fantastic but it’s the application that really matters.

What are your thoughts on the iAd platform? PR move of the present or wave of the future?

  • iTines, iPhone, iPad, Ping (why not iPing ?), iTV, iRadio and now iAd – what would be next?

  • Karthik

    As a developer, i would say iAd is a very good incentive given by Apple to its developers. I have been using both admob(google) and iAd in my iPhone Applications, and i have seen iAd pays me 10 times or even more sometimes than Admob pays me, the eCPM for Admob is 0.25 to 0.30$ but for iAD its 5$ to 10$ , you do the math. So if advertising buying community are not paying iAd then who does.

    dont makeup something with just words- see the statistics and facts, do some research. and i am sure Google is paying lot of people for the negative advertisements about iAd :-),

    Being a developer in the time of this recession, i owe iAd and apple for helping me earn some money and make my life better.

    Admob served – daily about 80000 request and 75000 impresions – paid me 15$
    Apple served – 40000 impresions and paid me 250$

    for paying that money apple was able to get the advertisers!

    A mobile Developer