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Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Apple's iAd promises a billion impressions a day – but who's counting?

US— Apple has previewed its new mobile advertising platform and set tongues wagging about the renewed possibilities and potential for in-app marketing – but crucial questions remain about the buying and selling process: specifically, how will advertisers know they are hitting the right targets?

Declaring that “most mobile advertising really sucks”, Apple CEO Steve Jobs went on to present iAds, which effectively allows mini applications to be created within applications.

Presented to consumers as an animated or static banner ad running across the bottom of the iPhone screen, touching the banner launches a new window within the active app, through which users can access a range of advertising content.

A dummied-up ad for Toy Story 3 offered trailers, wallpaper content and a cinema locator. A similar demo for retailer Target allowed users to create a shopping list and email it. Applications advertised within the iAds themselves could also be bought direct from the App Store.

Jobs attempted to wow potential iAdvertisers with the claim that the platform could offer as many as a billion ad impressions per day. How does he arrive at that figure? It’s one ad delivered every three minutes across the average app usage time of 30 minutes per day, and then multiplied by 100 million devices.

If that figure turns out to be correct, there are going to be some serious data crunching implications, as advertisers seek to discover not only how many impressions are being delivered but, as importantly, who they are being delivered to.

The development of iAd follows Apple’s acquisition in January of mobile ad platform Quattro Wireless, which boasts consumer segmentation and targeting capabilities using either contextual parameters, such as media type, channel and publisher, or demographic parameters. Quattro also provides campaign measurement and post-campaign analysis, so one might assume similar features will be built in to the iAd offering.

What all this means for third-party mobile app measurement firms, such as Flurry, Motally and Medialets, is uncertain at this stage. Certainly, there’s the potential that iAds will expand the market for them and mobile media measurement firms such as ComScore and Nielsen, as advertisers look for independent verification of app usage claims.

Jobs promises his platform can deliver creative executions that combine the emotion of television advertising with interactivity that surpasses online advertising. If that’s the case advertisers might be looking to measure the effectiveness of their iAds in terms of user engagement, brand lift and propensity to purchase.

Apple says iAds will be available in the summer, built in to Version 4 of its iPhone operating system. A version for the recently released iPad will follow in the autumn.

UPDATE: Medialets CEO Eric Litman has blogged his thoughts about the iAd announcement. “Apple’s done more to move the needle in the brand community for mobile advertising than anyone else, and that was before they owned an ad network. Now that they’re promoting rich media units on a grand scale, we’re convinced that the flow of dollars into mobile ads – across all platforms – will only increase,” he says. Click here for more.

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Readers' comments (2)

  • Job's missed one critical number in his calculation of 1 billion ad impressions per day.

    His calculation was (30 minutes / 3 ads per minute) * 100 million devices = 1 billion impressions.

    This number, or rather the (30 minutes / 3 ads per minute) figure assumes that all apps will include iAds, which is false.

    The 1 billion figure is only correct if each user only used applications which included iAds, which we all know will not be the case due to the popularity of a) Paid apps, b) Free apps without ads, and c) Free apps with other ad networks' ads.

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  • Developers won't be married to iAds, much as Pinch Media pre-selects the best ad network for the app based on ROI, I'm sure there will be developers who have established pinch/flurry metrics then experimenting with iAds to look at the difference in performance. It's only a matter of time before these data are shared with the community, as it will be what every developer will be wanting to know this summer.

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