iAd rollouts off to a slow start as Apple struggles to learn the mobile ad business

Mon, Aug 16, 2010


Despite the success that some advertisers and developers are having with iAds, Apple’s insistence on being involved in the creative process of the actual mobile advertisements has adversely affected the ability of Apple’s partners from rolling out ads as quickly as they would like.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

Since launching its iAd mobile advertising service on July 1, Apple has been slow to roll it out. Of the 17 launch partners Apple named for iAd, only UnileverPLC and Nissan Co. had iAd campaigns for much of July. Of the remaining 17,Citigroup Inc., Walt Disney Co. and J.C. Penney Co.—which tied its campaign to the back-to-school-season—have since launched iAd campaigns and other companies are planning iAd efforts.

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.

That has made the creation of the mobile ads laborious, taking about eight to 10 weeks from brainstorm to completion—longer than normal for most mobile ads, executives said. The building of the actual ad, handled by Apple, in some cases is taking two weeks longer than expected, one person added.

The longer that expected delays have even resulted in one company, Chanel SA, dropping their iAd efforts altogether. Citigroup has also experienced iAd delays, and the report notes that the company is now taking a more metered approach to rolling out ads on Apple’s new mobile advertising platform.

Given the early success of iAds, for those lucky enough to have everything up and running, Apple is clearly onto something with their take on mobile advertising. But as competitors like AdMob start to play catchup, Apple better hope it has a better handle on things sooner than later. Part of the problem is that Apple is extremely green to the mobile ad business. Apple of course purchased the mobile ad firm Quattro back in January for nearly $300 million, and Steve Jobs has subsequently said that they’re trying to learn the ad business as fast as Quattro can teach them. Apparently, though, things aren’t moving as fast as expected.

People familiar with the matter said Apple underestimated how tough the new business would be and is still learning the best tactics for dealing with ad agencies. At the same time, ad agencies are struggling to keep pace with new ad technologies.

With Apple handling the production of the ad unit, agencies don’t necessarily know what it is capable of or how to use the technology, one ad executive said. The iAd is designed in HTML5 technology, and Apple has yet to distribute a “developer kit” to agencies so they can understand how it works.



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