Apple Launches iAd: Masks A Bigger Problem For Marketers

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Kipp Bodnar
Kipp Bodnar



iad Yesterday, Apple announced a new advertising platform for its popular iPhone. The platform, named iAd , will allow application developers to serve ads on applications distributed through the Apple Application Store. Apple hopes that marketers will buy ads in hopes of reaching the 50 million iPhone users currently on the market. With iAd, developers can use the platform to serve ads within their applications and will keep 60 percent of the revenue going to Apple for serving and hosting the ads.

The ads are displayed using HTML5 instead of Adobe Flash, and instead of sending users out of the app when the ad is clicked, iAd keeps users in the application to get more information from the advertiser. Apple is providing developers access to different APIs that will allow ads to interact with iPhone features such as the accelerometer, giving iAd a superior usability advantage over other mobile ad networks.

iAd Solves The Wrong Problem

iAd takes a bad problem and makes it a little better but fails to solve the bigger issue. When people use an application, they want to read an article, play a game, or watch a video, they don't want to interact with an ad.

Do you like banner ads? Do you click on banner ads? 

Developers making free applications deserve to earn money for their time and many of them likely will with iAd . However, marketers, do you believe that buying ads on the iAd platform with solve your marketing problem? It won't.  As a marketer, you need to be the "app" not the ad. The app is what everyone downloads, talks about, and interacts with. The ad is the thing that gets in the way of of the fun. Which would you rather be?

3 Ways Your Business Can Be The App

Am I suggesting that companies shouldn 't buy mobile ads? No. I am suggesting that mobile ads don't hold nearly the lead generating power that being the "app" does. Ads on any platform can be expensive. I would urge marketers to think about how their potential customers use mobile devices. Would your prospects be better served by seeing your ad during a game of sudoku or by interacting with an application that helps to solve their business problems?

With the money your business could likely invest in mobile advertising, I maintain that it would yield a higher return on investment to build out mobile content in the form of an application or mobile optimized web site.

What can your business do to create compelling mobile content?

1. Understand How Your Customers' Problems Are Different On The Mobile Web
- When your prospects are interacting with different types of digital media they have different needs. For example, mobile content needs to be more brief than content consumed on the desktop. Many mobile devices now have built in GPS chips, so location is a much more important component of mobile consumption. Get to the very nature of how your customers work and consume information on the go. How can your business provide value for them in that context?

2. Having A Mobile Lead Generation Process - Just because mobile devices have tiny screens doesn 't mean that lead generation strategies and ROI metrics go out the window for the sake of doing something cool. Because prospects may interact with your content on mobile devices differently, your method for generating leads in a mobile environment may be different. For example, perhaps the goal of your mobile application is to build your opt-in text message database this mobile phone numbers of prospects. This is likely different from a desktop content marketing environment, which might have the goal of generating e-mail list subscription.

3. Know That A Mobile App Isn 't A Tiny Version Of Your Web Site - Too many web sites are boring, and the only thing worse than a boring web site is seeing it copied onto a mobile application to be boring on yet another device. While parts of your web site may be compelling to mobile users, it is doubtful that all of the features will be. Because you likely have a different lead conversion goal on mobile platforms, it is important to make sure that your content and distribution match that strategy.

What do you think of Apple's new iAd platform? How does your business plan to reach prospects via mobile platforms?

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Photo Credit: Techcrunch

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