iAd from Apple: Advertising's new frontier

iAd is a breakthrough mobile advertising platform from Apple. With it, apps can feature rich media ads that combine the emotion of TV with the interactivity of the web. For developers, it means a new, easy-to-implement source of revenue. For advertisers, it creates a new media outlet that offers consumers highly targeted information.

As Steve Jobs explained iAd combines the emotion of TV ads with the interactivity of web ads. Today, when users click on mobile ads they are almost always taken out of their app to a web browser, which loads the advertiser’s webpage. Users must then navigate back to their app, and it is often difficult or impossible to return to exactly where they left. iAd solves this problem by displaying full-screen video and interactive ad content without ever leaving the app, and letting users return to their app anytime they choose. iPhone OS 4 lets developers easily embed iAd opportunities within their apps, and the ads are dynamically and wirelessly delivered to the device. Apple will sell and serve the ads, and developers will receive an industry-standard 60 percent of iAd revenue.

See slides from the keynote with a few lines of explanation.

First let's look at the concept of iAd.

There are currently 79 million iPhones and iTouch devices out there. By the summer there will be 100 million, which will generate an estimated 1 billion ad impressions. Knowing Apple's track record the real number can several times more. And, the demographic is amazing.

There are great interactive ads like the IKEA banner posted recently. And great emotional TV ads, too numerous to mention. Apple wants to make iAds even more interactive and as emotional as TV.

The key benefits of the iAd system is shown on the slide above.

Example ads were demoed to get an idea of what is possible within the iAd system. In short anything is possible, but let's look at the three examples.

Pixar's Toy Story 3

We start with a regular news reading app with a Toy Story 3 banner on the bottom.

As soon as you tap the banner the ad opens full screen.

A menu opens.

Intro from the main characters.

A cool menu with short videos all made in standard HTML5 (no Flash required).

You can watch videos streamed from iApple's iAd servers.

You can play games right within the ad.

You can download desktops for your iPhone.

You can check-out where the movie is playing.

You can even buy a Toy Story game right within the iAd with just a click.


Here we see a banner for Nike on the bottom of the application screen.

When the user clicks the ad, the application starts in full screen.

A video plays full screen.

A menu shows a plethora of interactive features.

The iAd has a section showing the history of shoes.

Another section allows you to preview NikeID shoes and download the free NikeID application right within the iAd.


The Target ad is visible on the bottom of the screen of an application.

When clicked the iAd opens full screen.

Plays a regular TV ad.

Shows a menu with options.

User can input his profile info, such as "dude" interested in "music" and school "Michigan".

The iAd creates a customized interactive dorm room with Michigan items, all titled and priced.

iAd allows you to search for Target stores right next to where you're or next to your school.

When you tap on the little close button in the top left corner you're right back in the application you were using.

What others are saying about iAds?

The San Francisco Chronicle ask 10 burning questions about the iAds platform such as: Will Apple be able to sell to Madison Ave?

The Wireless Week is concerned with the approval procedure and the inability to use Flash.

The LA Times speculates whether Apple can fight Google in the ad space.

I say the conversion rates with this system will be highest ever experienced in any media. People will love the iAds system and this will drive content creators and application creators to put even more effort into creating even more engaging applications to take advantage of the new revenue stream. iAds will be a hit in every possible way.


HannahGillaspie's picture
8 pencils

Once again, Apple has developed the newest, most innovative technology to enhance the lives of its users. Although viewing advertisements on a cell phone isn't all that mind-blowing, the iAd application will likely be the way that advertisements are viewed in the future. The interactive capabilities of this app allows the viewer to actively engage with the products in the ad. This is a really smart idea because the user can not only get information about the products but they can buy the products directly from the ad itself. Nowadays, when consumers are purchasing more and more online, being able to purchase products from a cell phone could increase revenue and increase brand awareness among consumers.

Shanty Mathew's picture
Shanty Mathew
130 pencils

"I say the conversion rates with this system will be highest ever experienced in any media."

I couldn't agree with you more, Ivan.

And the conversions may be further optimized if, from the user's POV... 1.) the banner itself fits seamlessly in the context of the page, i.e. it doesn't feel intrusive, and yet gives a compelling reason to click. 2.) the ad doesn't yank you off someplace else - i.e. it feels just like an extension of the page in terms of relevance. 3.) the ad / experience concludes with the answer to 'Where can I get one?'

It's also beginning to look like the natural destination for a lot of ad spend.

(...Just realized that the quote from David Ogilvy (below) that I use as a sign-off, says it all!)

eaeby5's picture
6 pencils

This breakthrough technology is a convenient and intelligent way for advertisers to directly target their consumers. Way to go Apple! I agree with Shanty: it is going to be necessary to give compelling, exciting and emotion reasons for iPhone users to actually click the ads. However, as an iPhone user myself, there are many ads that I would LOVE to click on that I simply choose not to because I know it is going to take me away from what I was previously doing. Once again, Apple has looked at exactly what makes its customers frustrated, fixed it and made the world of advertising smile with high hopes that this will be a wonderful and targeted way to get their message out there!

eltku's picture
6 pencils

Apple always seems to come up with a way to make life easier for their consumers. This new application will allow advertisers to reach their target audiences easily and effectively. With paper copies of newspapers slowly becoming extinct and with the popularity of TiVo on the rise, making commercials avoidable, advertisers must understand how to reach their target audience. The iAd is a perfect example of how technology is changing and it’s great to see how advertisers are figuring out new and improved ways to reach their potential customers.

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