iPad Heralds the Big App Push

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apples.jpgADOTAS – Sorry, Steve Jobs — you have failed to impress the interactive advertising community.

That was the majority opinion of Adotas readers responding to a poll on the iPad, Apple’s tablet computer introduced on Wednesday. About a fifth of respondents also wondered if Apple could have picked a better name… One that didn’t make semi-sophomoric consumers associate it with hygiene products  (especially considering this sorta NSFW MadTV sketch of a few years ago).

For rich media advertisers, the biggest drag about the iPad is that it doesn’t “do” Flash — the Safari web browser refuses the Flash plug-in. When will Apple and Adobe finally make peace?

While Paran Johar, CEO for Jumptap — which already has a launch date for its iPad advertising solution — believes the increased screen size will be a boon for rich media ads, but the lack of Flash would seem to be a bit of an obstacle. However, Mobclix Co-founder Krishna Subramanian notes that most banner campaigns with Flash have backup gifs for browsers that lack Flash capabilities.

But with the iPad, Apple is making a big app push and trying to shove the mobile ad space into a primarily in-app advertising system. When the iPad debuts on shelves in April, 140,000 apps will be available in the App Store.

Developers greedily devoured the new iPhone SDK, which is optimized for the iPad. While the App Store broke the 3 billion apps downloaded barrier late last year, 75% to 80% of apps listed in the app store are free, so monetizing through in-app advertising is a popular revenue maker.

Along with the iPad comes the promise of a new media revolution — Steve Jobs announced at the iPad unveiling that The New York Times is developing an app similar to its iPhone app and magazines are contemplating how to take advantage of the iPad’s offerings. Publishers such as ESPN.com translate their online content into mobile web apps, which function similar to native apps on mobile devices.

So it would seem Apple is trying to get mobile users to forget about browsing and increase their apping — a push that’s been in the works since it introduced widgets in its Mac operating system.

Content is far richer on mobile apps than on mobile websites, certainly when it comes to video, which is becoming increasingly essential in campaigns. Subramanian predicts an increase in mobile interstitial video ads — most likely through apps — which will have a stronger impact on a 9.7-inch screen.

Part of the trouble with apps is the distribution system, Subramanian noted. At least with Apple, there’s the App Store — apps for Google’s Android can be downloaded on several digital bazaar, adding “Where do I go?” to the inherent confusion in “Which apps do I use?”

While the App Store is a centralized location — “Nothing exists outside that world,” noted Subramanian — with thematic organization, determining the best apps remains a word of mouth process. Friends trust friends in picking their apps, especially since the App Store Genius has been found to be lacking.

“In-app purchasing was definitely a step in the right direction, but app discovery is still very difficult,” Subramanian said. “There are tons of websites out there devoted to finding the best apps.”

TechCrunch notes that Apple’s purchase of Quattro Wireless is looking pretty damn smart about now; the company wants developers to monetize their apps, but through an advertising network they own and manage. It makes sense given Apple’s penchant for closed-off ecosystems.

Robin Wauters writes: “Apple is now in a position where it controls both the development environment, the hardware apps run on, the distribution and purchasing platform, as well as a powerful mobile advertising network developers can tap in order to grow their returns on development and marketing investments.”

The question is if advertisers will move in the direction they’re being pushed. If the audience is there, Subramanian notes, brands will optimize their campaigns for the iPad. Analytics companies like Motally are buying into that logic; the company has already extended its user-action tracking for mobile web and apps to cover iPad content.

“Although the iPad is currently quite similar to the iPhone in terms of software, we believe analytics will play a bigger role on the iPad as consumers will experience increased functionality and screen size”, said Arte Merritt, CEO of Motally. “Once the iPad SDK is released, our analytics service will scale to meet its new features.”

So maybe the iPad didn’t blow the minds of online and mobile advertisers, but its introduction strongly suggests the future of mobile advertising is tied to apps.

Now for a lighter moment, Funny or Die’s take on the iPad:

The iPad – watch more funny videos

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