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Getting to Know Apple’s iAds

iAds [1]

In 2010, Apple unveiled its very own mobile advertising platform conveniently named iAds.  What makes the iAd network special is that the ads only appear in Apple iOS products, which include the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  What’s more interesting is that the ads only appear inside the apps available on these devices– they are served as a banner at the bottom of the screen and, when tapped, they open into an immersive ad experience that  remains within the app.

While iAds did not gain immediate traction with marketers, significant price cuts have made the new ad format/option more readily available and worth experimentation. iAds presents a whole series of intriguing possibilities for advertisers, including ultra-precise targeting and a commitment to engaging and immersive ads.  These innovations could change the way advertisers approach mobile marketing. Here’s how:

Precision Targeting: iAds takes targeting to a whole new level as iAds only appear in Apple products, and since all Apple products are connected to iTunes accounts, Apple has access to an enormous amount of valuable information about users.  This includes their purchase behavior—which reveals what apps, music, movies, books, and television shows users purchase—as well as segmented group information based on age, gender, income, and location.  All this information can be applied to selectively target the Apple users who would be most interested in a particular product or service.

It may seem as though iAds are limited because they only reach Apple mobile devices, but this may just represent a tradeoff. What is lost in terms of scope is gained in terms of targeting.  And with that being said, the scope that iAds does offer is quite substantial.  Apple has sold approximately 600 million iOS devices to date, there are about 575 million iTunes accounts out in the world, and there are 900,000 apps [2] currently available from the App Store in which these ads can appear.  According to Apple, 82% of the time spent on iOS devices is spent in apps [3], which gives marketers ample opportunity to reach their targeted users with these ads.

Engagement and Entertainment: Generally, marketers have an easy enough time creating and placing an advertisement. The true feat is determining how to engage a potential customer with said advertisement.  Apple’s iAds isn’t just trying to solve that challenge with better targeting; they are prioritizing customer engagement and visually enticing elements.  iAds place entertainment value at a high premium for their ads.  These are ads you would want to tap into, not only because you are interested in the advertised product, but also because you might actually enjoy the ad experience.

What this means is that the ads will be highly immersive and visually engaging – they might even consist of a game or task to complete.  This interactivity is similar to the occasional Google doodle that provides searchers with  an interactive experience on their homepage, sometimes in the form of a game.  Users  don’t click on the Google Doodle because it will take them to their search destination , but because the interactivity is novel and entertaining.

iAds hope to synthesize a user’s interest in the advertised product with a simultaneous interest in being entertained.  Once users tap into the iAd, they are presented with a number of options pertinent to the advertiser’s business goals: if the advertisers’ conversion goal is inbound calls, they can include a click-to-call feature; if the advertisers’ conversion goal is music downloads, they can prompt the user to download a song without ever leaving the app. Other actionable options include viewing a webpage, watching a video, downloading shows, movies or ringtones, finding a location, sending an email, tweeting a message, or saving a reminder. And because iAds are exclusively viewed on iOS devices, these interactive elements are highly streamlined within the device.  The exclusivity within Apple products and the emphasis on imaginative design and engagement make iAds an intriguing platform to watch out for in the future.

What do you think of an Apple-only ad platform? As mobile connectivity continues to grow, is it well positioned to take a bigger slice of the display media pie?