What’s New About “New” in Mobile Ads?

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It has been almost two months since Steve Jobs first introduced Apple’s intentions of entering the mobile advertising market with the iPhone 4’s iAds application feature.  While at first viewed as part of the multi-pronged reaction to Google’s acquisition of AdMob (an acquisition the FTC explicitly says they recently approved based on Apple’s reactionary acquisition of Quattro), this should not be viewed as just another intriguing chapter in the once incestuous, now openly combative relationship between Google and Apple.  Jobs’ performance at Monday morning’s WWDC points to intriguing philosophy shifts in mobile advertising.  Shifts, yes, but not the dramatic, “game changing” shifts that Apple has built their brand on.

In declaring that “search on mobile isn’t happening” Jobs’ illustrates what many have observed: that mobile users essentially micro-search through the use of apps rather than using the traditional engines popularized by desktop and notebook users.  This clearly explains how Jobs was able to announce that iOS4 will offer Microsoft’s Bing as a search option not just comfortably, but with condescending praise.  That said, niche-based search found through apps clearly complicates most mobile SEO strategies, in particular when professionals lazily attempt to replicate standard web strategies on mobile platforms.

With apps becoming the strongest way to reach the mobile consumer–Jobs’ boasts the ability of iAds to reach 1 billion daily impressions–the seamless integration of ad and app is natural.  There is certainly much to be excited about iAd’s goal of providing the interactive and emotive elements of the ad space seamlessly within the application (”an application with the application”), rather than simply linking to an outside website.  But, any time we come across something announced as *new* it becomes important to consider what exactly is new about it.  Ironically, when considering descriptions of iAds they sound curiously familiar to many expandable java ads that allow users to experience the ad while staying within the website it is embedded in.

Also, with iOS4 finally offering the multi-tasking capabilities so many users pined for, it suddenly becomes more difficult to articulate the advantages of a user being able to experience ad applications within the original application.  As users become more accustomed to the ability to move through simultaneously running applications the novelty of opening an ad app within an application runs thin.

Are iAds “game changing” in and of themselves?  No, but the posturing of Apple and Google leading up to and after its July 1st release certainly will be.  Apple’s current $60 million in ad campaign commitments is still dwarfed by Google’s ad empire, but the often tangled relationship between these giants will naturally cause this to change moving forward.  That said, Jobs’ goal to create platforms to deliver ads with “emotion” and interactivity magnifies an element that many unsuccessful campaigns fail to properly employ: the need to weave a coherent and effective advertising narrative– something that does not inherently need “game changing” or “revolutionary” platform developments.

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9:20 am Business X-Factors, Media, Web2.0

One Response

  1. Michael Margot Says:

    Great insights on the mobile web ad platforms. Still seems like it is anyone’s game!

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