Maybe things got off to a bad start when Apple CEO Steve Jobs said most mobile advertising “really sucks.” Then he proceeded to show how Apple will change everything, engaging people with ads within apps.
Early this week, he showed just how much fun it is to interact with the Nissan Leaf – and maybe you can even win a car! iPhone users can find out July 1 just how much fun it is when the iAd system launches for iOS devices.
In all the brouhaha that has gone on this week – starting with Monday’s release of developer terms that essentially lock out AdMob/Google from the picture – one particular story stuck in my mind. When an NPR reporter was explaining Apple’s new ad policies, he was asked about the “elephant in the room.” At first I thought – oh, they’re going to bring up the question of “Who really wants to view mobile ads?,” right? No, they were talking about Google.
We’ll find out whether federal U.S. regulators find Apple is unfairly restricting rivals in the mobile ad market if they look into the matter, as the Financial Times indicates. It sounds like another one of those muddled areas. On the one hand, should Apple be forced to let AdMob/Google collect information about how apps are used on iOS devices? I think not. On the other hand, it seems unfair to block certain companies from the system just because they’re a bigger threat. Smaller, independent mobile ad networks are OK, but AdMob/Google is not, presumably because you fear they will use the information to improve their own Android devices?
Maybe they can all work out some kind of compromise. As for developers and whether Apple’s ad policies end up hurting them, I think it depends on who you talk to. Developers who have been using AdMob’s ads aren’t going to like it, but I’ve talked to some developers who are really psyched about Apple’s ads and can’t wait to incorporate them.
Jobs likes to talk about Apple’s “naïvety” about the mobile advertising space, and maybe there’s a certain amount of that going on. He’s been claiming all kinds of firsts, but some mobile ad industry veterans just yawn at those types of statements, saying it’s all been done before. It’s just that Apple has a way of making things “real” by virtue of its brand and reputation.
Jobs himself described how advertisers are committing $60 million to iAds for the second half of this year, representing about 48 percent of the overall mobile ad spend in the United States in 2010 based on JP Morgan’s numbers. That doesn’t sound naïve at all. It sounds like someone going after a big chunk of the mobile ad market, one that industry execs for years have identified as a gigantic, golden opportunity. Thanks for joining the party, Steve. No one knew how to make smartphones before iPhone. Maybe you can show us all how mobile advertising should be done.