There have been some interesting rumors going around in Apple land again. MediaPost is convinced that Apple is going to announce a mobile ad platform called “iAd” on April 7th.
Precise details of the system and its features could not be discerned at presstime (and calls to Apple had not been returned), but it is believed to have been built on top of Quattro, the mobile advertising developer Apple acquired in January for nearly $300 million, and it is expected to be the first real battle of a Silicon Valley Holy War between Apple and arch frenemy Google that is shifting its front line to Madison Avenue.
I know, the idea seemed a little outlandish to me at first, too. After pondering the thought of an Apple ad network for awhile, it started to make sense.
Apple has two devices that are similar, but radically different in their intended usage, and they both are good candidates for an ad network.
The iPad is intended to be a media consumption device. It’s form factor is supposed to make it a device to read magazines, news and books on. With Apple pushing for publications to make their content available on the iPad and iPhone, doesn’t it make sense for them to provide a premium ad network to make the move more profitable for both parties. With a New York Times iPad application, a Wired app, and more on the way, doesn’t it seem like a comprehensive in-app advertising solution would be an attractive deal for publishers?
The iPhone is primarily used on-the-go. Its users pull it out to find nearby restaurants, check movie show times, buy train tickets, or make other informational or monetary transactions one does while out and about. Geolocation could really be a game-changer for some forms of advertising. Suppose you’re looking for a restaurant in the Yelp application. If you’ve enabled the app to have permission to geolocate you, it could forward your location to the Apple ad network and display ads for restaurants nearby.
Apple has a chance to build an ad network that does things differently. If they impose strict guidelines on the advertisers allowed in, so as to be useful to the user while not becoming too intrusive, they could have a hit. How often do you find ads to be useful? If Apple can break that paradigm, they’ll have done something truly revolutionary.