Apple’s iAds mobile platform off to a slow start

Aug 16, 2010
Finance

Apple’s (AAPL) expensive mobile ad platform is getting off to a slow start, frustrating the agencies that are working with the tech company. Also in today’s App Industry Roundup, the Kindle and iPad battle for eReader dominance, and we ask is Google becoming “evil”? Apple’s iAd lumbers out of the gate Apple’s new mobile advertising platform […]

Apple’s (AAPL) expensive mobile ad platform is getting off to a slow start, frustrating the agencies that are working with the tech company. Also in today’s App Industry Roundup, the Kindle and iPad battle for eReader dominance, and we ask is Google becoming “evil”?

Apple’s iAd lumbers out of the gate

Apple’s new mobile advertising platform is slow to catch on with ad agencies.

“Part of the reason some marketers are experiencing delays in getting their iAds to market is that Apple has kept tight control on the creative aspects of ad-making, something advertisers aren’t used to, according to several ad executives involved with creating iAds,” noted a report in the Wall Street Journal.

Apple’s involvement in the process is excessive, these agencies say, greatly slowing down the mobile ad creation process. Creating an iAd campaign, from brainstorm to completion, is taking eight to 10 weeks — longer than normal, the paper reports. “The building of the actual ad, handled by Apple, in some cases is taking two weeks longer than expected, one person added.”

Of course, Apple and control go hand-in-hand, so the fact that the company is putting such leverage behind its ambitious ad program is not surprising. And while the complaints are relatively minor and revolve around the big companies that can afford a pricey iAd campaign — packages start at $1 million — mobile advertising remains in its infancy. The WSJ notes that revenue from cellphone ads in the U.S. is expected to increase by 43 percent to $593 million in 2010, up from $416 million in 2009, according to research firm eMarketer.

Not everyone is unhappy with iAds, however.

Nissan launched an iAd for its Leaf electric car; users shake their phone to change the car’s color. A Nissan spokeswoman told the WSJ that its iAd “has driven exceptional results to date,” noting that the rate of users tapping on the banner is five times the click-through-rate of the Nissan Leaf online campaign.

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And then there were two

Of all the hype surrounding new models of eReaders and how that would open up the digital book market, it appears we are heading to a battle of two: iPad vs. Kindle.

Barnes & Noble (BKS) is heartily pushing the Nook, expanding store space to its eReader, but the company is in financial turmoil and is investigating a sale. Sony, too, has a slate of eReaders, but they always seem to be overpriced and just out of step to keep pace with Amazon (AMZN). Plus, Sony doesn’t have a giant bookstore in its back pocket, like the Kindle or Nook. Finally, we have yet to see an Android-based tablet that could threaten the iPad’s reputation as a useful eReader among its other properties.

Yet there were countless other eReader plays that gathered a lot less attention  — except in the tech blogs — that went nowhere. Ars Technica offers a glimpse of what happened to these other players in an interesting piece. “First, Sprint and Hearst cancelled the Skiff e-reader, then the Plastic Logic QUE was delayed yet gain,” writes Jon Stokes. “Last month, long-time Dutch e-reader maker IREX went bankrupt — the Iliad e-reader just didn’t sell well enough in the US, and the company ran out of cash.”

Do you recall any of those? I didn’t think so. Hence, we are left with a battle of the big two — iPad vs. Kindle, Apple vs. Amazon — and it should be enough, now that the Kindle is priced as low as $139. That means consumers have a real choice: buy a dedicated reading device, the Kindle, without fretting about overpaying, or spend three times as much for a do-it-all gadget with quite acceptable reading software, the iPad.

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Yet while these big two will dominate sales for the foreseeable future, the other competitors are good for consumers so lets hope they don’t disappear entirely. Barnes & Noble dramatically cut prices for the Nook, for instance, starting a price war with Amazon earlier this summer. And, while we haven’t seen an Android tablet yet, you can bet that the horde of companies planning to make one will give Apple’s iPad a run for the money, just like Android mobile phones are doing against the iPhone.

Is Google evil?

The head-scratching and soul-searching surrounding Google’s (GOOG) decision to work with Verizon over thorny net neutrality issues led to three thoughtful pieces in Monday’s New York Times.

1. Google’s allies are now aghast at what they see is an about-face regarding net neutrality. Outside the Google headquarters last week, “a group called the Raging Grannies sang a song called ‘The Battle Hymn for the Internet,’ and others carried signs reading, ‘Google is evil if the price is right’,” according to this story.

2. Google and Verizon’s proposal raises privacy fears among small companies. An Internet that is non-neutral in regards to how information is shared could lead to monitoring of content to determine if premiums should be charged, one group notes.

3. In the Reuters Breaking Views column, the argument of net neutrality is simple: it’s just about money.

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Eric Benderoff

Eric Benderoff is the principal of BendableMedia.com, an editorial services firm, and a founding member of the Appolicious content strategy team. His personal technology column for the Chicago Tribune has appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide. He is a regular guest on Chicago's WGN Radio and is a frequent commentator about consumer technology on national TV news programs.

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