For those who admire Apple, it’s always interesting to watch the loyalty Apple commands from its most loyal customers and how that loyalty manifests itself. It has been said that Apple CEO Steve Jobs accomplishes his magic through the use of a ‘Reality Distortion Field.’

The Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field isn’t, however, simply limited to consumers (or the media). Apparently it is making its way to Madison Avenue.

According to the Wall Street Journal, advertising executives are shelling out (or seriously considering shelling out) $1m to $10m to be among the first to get their ads distributed through Apple’s upcoming iAds program. The Journal’s Emily Steel writes:

Despite the high price, ad executives at agencies from Boston to New York and
San Francisco to Los Angeles have crowded into conference rooms in recent weeks
to listen to the tech company’s pitch for iAd.

The appeal: not only will iAds give advertisers access to apps in the wildly popular App Store, but Apple is trying to make iAds as easy on the eyes as its physical products. Steel explains:

One example Apple has been showing advertisers is an ad for Nike’s Air Jordan basketball shoe, says Baba Shetty, chief media officer at Boston-based ad agency Hill Holiday, owned by Interpublic Group. When a user is in an application, an animated banner ad appears on the border of the screen, along with an iAd logo. If the user taps on the ad, it expands across the screen, displaying a video, an interactive store locator and exclusive offers at local stores, among other features.

Apple’s involvement goes beyond the demo; the company apparently plans to be involved in ad creation and production, which is reportedly resulting in some tension between Apple and the creatives who are used to having control themselves.

In terms of price structure, Apple will apparently be charging a cent per impression and $2 when a viewer interacts with the ad. The advertisers that pay $1m and up to be a part of the iAds launch would thus be committing to iAds to the tune of at least $1m of impressions and ad ‘taps‘. That’s quite an up-front commitment as far as industry norms go.

But some advertisers are apparently eager to take the plunge. Baba Shetty of Hill Holiday, referring to the Nike demo Apple has been showing, stated, “It was very easy to think about the several minutes of interaction time
consumers can spend with the ad. It’s incredibly attractive.

The question, of course, is whether iAds are capable of delivering ROI that looks as good as the ads themselves, or whether ad execs like Shetty have been trapped in the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field. While I wouldn’t bet against Apple, and believe it may very well deliver a wonderfully innovative mobile advertising experience, the fact that ad executives are thinking that consumers are going to spend minutes interacting with an iAd hints that the Steve Jobs Reality Distortion Field is running at full power.

To be fair, ad executives are always far more impressed by their ads than consumers are, but at the end of the day, advertising is advertising. That’s not to say that all advertising is created equal, or that some inventory isn’t worth more than other inventory. But given all of the options advertisers have for reaching consumers today, spending seven or eight figures on iAds may turn out to make as much sense as sleeping outside an Apple Store in the cold to be one of the first to buy an iPad.

Photo credit: Danny Novo via Flickr.