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What iAd Won't Do For Marketers

For online marketers, there is a lot to like about Apple's mobile ad platform, the iAd: an ad that stays inside the app doesn’t force the consumer to choose between the app or leaving the app to satisfy a passing curiosity about an ad (and guess who usually wins in that scenario).

Interactive and video content ads will be delivered to users without them ever leaving the app; users can simply close out the ad in order to return to using the app they were engaged with. A Nike ad, for example, lets users watch videos, build a custom shoe, or find a store, all without leaving the app, writes MediaBuyerPlanner.

Then there is this: Apple has a history of building winning models and business platforms. Consider the fragmented and messy state of online music and media player before it introduced the integrated ecosystem of iTunes and the iPod. Or the wild success of its App Store. That does not mean the iAd is a solution to the industry’s mobile woes, which admittedly, are significant. Marketers needs to consider what the iAd won't do:

The iAd Won’t…

1. Create a standard metric for mobile advertising.

This lack continues to hold back online ad spending in general, writes PaidContent.org. Until Apple can solve that problem, it says, mobile buys will continue to be modest and mostly experimental. "The overarching problem is that no one can agree on what is the most important mobile ad metric to track, and the systems for measuring from analytics companies are still considered inadequate."

Compare that to the TV ad market, where everyone knows what a Nielsen ratings point is worth, Paid Content said. "That’s missing in online advertising, and is even more elusive with mobile."

2. Make people start surfing the web via their mobile devices, at least in the ways and numbers that techies such as Steve Jobs envisions.

Face it, the mobile ad market is small - and that is not because marketers have been uninterested in the medium. Rather, people just aren’t visiting mobile web sites in meaningful numbers, says the Wall Street Journal. "Research firm eMarketer predicted about two years ago that mobile ad spending would be $2.8 billion in 2009, but more recently said that U.S. advertisers only spent $416 million on mobile ads last year - a fraction of the $22.4 billion U.S. online advertising market," the Journal said.

3. Take out the several mobile ad networks that already exist. 

Apple will be competing with several established mobile ad networks, including Millennial Media and JumpTap, writes Ad Week - platforms aimed at the thousands of developers that have flocked to build applications that run atop the iPhone.

4. Make the process of developing a mobile ad cheaper.

Producing mobile ads is already expensive - especially when Apple is involved. One only has to look at the costs involved at building a value-add app, the kind that Apple now favors. Eden Zoller, a principal analyst at Ovum, believes that creating ads for iAd would be costly and there is also a danger they could be intrusive, according to Financial Times.

By contrast, Google makes it really easy to create an advertisement - two lines of text and an icon if you want, says ZdNet. "To have an advertisement on iAd, it sounds like you’re basically going to have to create a complete application to even have a chance of showing up inside apps.”

5. Make dealing with Apple and its app rules any easier.

Apple is known for its sometimes long approval process for apps, as well as for a tendency to change the rules on developers. Recently, for example, it prohibited any apps not built on Objective-C, or one of the other programming languages prescribed by Apple, reports PC World.

"As an advertiser (especially one whose budget helps make up the long-tail in online/mobile spend), would you really choose iAd as your advertising network if it takes a month to create an ad that will be approved? I would stay with a network that gives you instant gratification, personally. We will see what happens when the dust settles," ZdNet concludes.

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