During yesterday’s Apple developer preview, the latest addition to Apple’s arsenal was unveiled, iAd. The platform aims to make it easy for developers to monetize their free iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad applications by providing a simple, Apple controlled platform that allows them to provide ads to their users.
While there is nothing revolutionary about ad networks, I believe this specific implementation is. Why?
For starters, much like the app store, iAd provides developers the opportunity to reach millions of users with a low cost of entry (implement iAd into your app and receive a 60/40 split of revenue). Secondly, advertisers suddenly have an entirely new canvas, apps (apps are the new website after all), that allows them to reach users in all new ways.
The real magic, however, is the user experience and closed system that Apple has created.
Critics will respond to the phrase “closed system” with anger, fear, and even flat out rage but let’s think about this before making any final judgements. The reason iAd has a chance to change how users interact with ads is simple: The fear and unknown of clicking on an ad is gone. Apple is throwing its brand behind an entire ad network to create the perception that if you trust Apple, you can trust these ads too! Worried about installing malware from clicking on that ad? Hate that ads open up a new window? No problem, Apple has solved this by keeping these ads within the app itself and vetting all of the ads on their network.
iAd reminds me of two ad networks I’m already a fan of, The Deck and Fusion Ads. Their ads are well designed, they advertise in applications I use and love, and they vet everyone on the network before accepting them. If you’ve ever used the free Twitter clients Tweetie or Twitterrific, you’ve seen these ads.
If Apple can convince its users that it’s safe to click anything with the iAd logo they will have single handedly changed the perception users have of ads, resulting in more clicks and more money made by both Apple and developers.
They will have done this by taking advantage of a closed system, their own brand, and a platform that their users already love (the app store).
I’m curious to hear how some of Austin’s local startups and App Store developers will react to and implement iAd (this is your cue to comment).
Developers can start taking advantage of the new tools in OS 4.0 today but we won’t actually see the new ads or other features in our apps until this summer. It’s going to be very exciting to see how this plays out. My conclusion? Google should start worrying right about now.