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How do you market ad inventory for a product with no proven ROI? Attach Steve Jobs' name to it. Apparently, advertising for Apple's iPad is selling very strongly, despite the complete lack of data on who is purchasing Apple's new gadget.

Traditional publishers are putting high hopes on the iPad launch next week. And now advertisers are helping to make their dreams a reality. At least at the starting gate.

The publications reporting this positive news all have a vested interest in the iPad's success. Wired magazine, for instance, was one of the first publishers to create an iPad friendly version of its magazine. Meaning that its recent cover story — How the Tablet Will Change the World — was as much wishful thinking as anything else.

Now, according to (surprise) The New York Times, The New York Times has sold all of its ad units on the iPad for the first two months after the launch of Apple's newest gadget. Chase has purchased all of the Times' iPad inventory to promote its Sapphire credit card. And while the newspaper hasn't divulged exact numbers, it looks like ads on the device will cost between $75,000 to $300,000 "with some exclusivity."

But there's plenty to suggest that the initial hype won't hold out.

FedEx will be the only advertiser on the Reuters and Newsweek apps for the iPad's first 90 days. Steve Pacheco, director of advertising and marketing communications at FedEx, tells The Times:

“Part of being first is to be included in their in-store demos, to be a real-life example of a powerful brand going to market in a new way.”

But publishers are covering their bases. There's no telling what the audience for iPad inventory will look like (which is one reason that mobile ad network AdMob is holding off selling ads for the iPad until it can test them on iPad hardware.)

All of the pre-pricing for the iPad is monthly rather than annual. The Wall Street Journal has disclosed, for instance, that it is charging $17.99 a month for iPad access, while it costs $14.99 for Kindle readers. If that proves too high for consumers, they can always notch it down at a later date.

But many publishers are regretting their choice to give away content for free online and are hoping that training mobile readers to pay for content will benefit them in the long run.

Meanwhile, there is another factor in favor of publishers' iPad plans. Even if iPad sales don't turn out to be staggering over the next few months, a small cadre of early adopters could be just the trigger happy consumers that high-end advertisers are always looking for.

Image: Apple

Meghan Keane

Published 25 March, 2010 by Meghan Keane

Based in New York, Meghan Keane is US Editor of Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter: @keanesian.

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