The announcement of iAd, the new mobile advertising system that will be built into the latest iPhone OS 4.0 can open doors to mobile advertising like never before. This post is my overtime imagination on possibilities. For a look at how innovative developers had built in ads inside iPhone apps take a look here.
The iAd announcement in hindsight connects the dots very well, just as Steve Jobs stated in his famous speech to the Stanford Graduates. The iAd platform sounds like a very harmonious extension to the application ecosystem that the iPhone thrives on. With the iPhone and the iPhone OS Apple provided a "remarkable" user experience. Apple then made development of new Apps easy by providing developers with the SDK. The combination of these two factors resulted in surging sales of iPhones and App downloads. A by-product of this ecosytem is that Apple has created a new medium for bridging information providers and consumers and it has complete control over it. So, an advertising system that can take advantage of this bridge is a logical extention that has many advantages. Some of the challenges like identity, context, location etc. that advertisers face on the web seem very straight-forward on a mobile.
On my iPhone, i have applications for search/retrieval of information, personal productivity and games. How can the iAd system work in my favor when im in these apps? My assumption is Apple will use my geo-location, maybe my age if its part of my itunes registration and all the information that "genius" would have collected.
On a desktop I use a search engine to find information because its easy and delivers very well, however using a search engine on a mobile phone is not a very friendly experience. The search results page may be optimized for mobile viewing but the destination page may not be. Addded to that you have the browser compatability issues. On mobiles search happens via Apps. Each app is built for a purpose that sets up the context. Great user interface with abilities to save preferences and identify location enhances the quality of search results and the motivation for me to use the mobile app over a regular search engine. Every app now has enough information to provide me with meaningful advertisements.
In the category of personal productivity tools iAd i think will perform much better. If i'm using an expense tracker the iAd system will know about it. With an inbuilt GPS in the mobile hardware and APIs to access those, the app also knows where I am. That gives financial institutions an opportunity to hand-pick their targets. Since its Apple I'm taking for granted that in app user-experience will not be jeopardized. Going by the example in the video one could easily run a lead generation program - the user would not even have to enter any information.
In game advertising again can use my preferences and geo-location to offer ads as an aside or if they have something like an iAd API, developers can easily build innovative in game advertising. Similarly for media publishers, they could build apps with highly interactive and targeted campaigns.
A few questions to end the post: will this service be available globally? I wonder what this means to creative agencies? will there be a steep learning curve? How easy is Apple going to make it for them?