Many iAds Tripped Up at Starting Gate

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IphoneADOTAS – “Mobile ads suck,” Apple CEO Steve Jobs infamously declared when introducing Apple’s new mobile ad product, the iAd, back in April. However, he may never have guessed what agencies are saying sucks more: developing iAds with Apple.

Marketers for the launch partners of the iAd have complained bitterly that Apple has had a vice-like grip (a death grip, you could even say) over the creative side of the ad making. While advertisers develop the creative, a process that can take between eight to 10 weeks, Apple actually builds the ad, adding another two weeks to the schedule. Apple also has not introduced an SDK to ad agencies.

No surprise, then, that only two companies — Unilever and Nissan — had iAds appearing across Apple mobile devices during July, the inaugural month of the “revolutionary ad product.” Only three more of the 15 remaining “launch partners” have since got their ads rolling; launch partner Chanel actually threw in the towel.

Unnamed sources told The Wall Street Journal that Apple “underestimated how tough the new business would be and is still learning the best tactics for dealing with ad agencies.”

Step no. 1 might be communication: While marketers can say where they don’t want their ads to appear, Apple doesn’t inform them where the iAds actually end up (ad verifiers, are you listening?) and doesn’t allow them to attach their own measurement tags.

Since the iAd announcement, many in the interactive ad space have been specious about Apple’s involvement in the creative side. It seems Apple has had a novel idea with ads as apps-within-apps, but other mobile ad networks and technology developers with less control issues are developing multi-platform solutions that are easier to execute.

Brands that have got their iAds rolling have been beaming about the solution: Nissan told WSJ that it was seeing five times the click-through rate of its similar online campaign. But mobile network Greystripe has seen some impressive results with its app-within-an-app Immersion Ads, as detailed in this case study.

As the mobile advertising field grows increasingly cluttered with similar and less expensive products, Apple is going to be forced to cede some power to agencies, a lesson that Wired notes Apple has learned in the past with iTunes ventures: after initially demanding that it design packages for exclusive digital content, Apple introduced a developer kit for record labels and artists to build their own designs.

However, the perils of being a single-platform solution may quickly catch up with iAd, especially as Google’s Android OS rapidly gains market share.

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