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For advertisers looking for the holy grail in mobile, the iPhone is one of the most attractive targets. And with iAd, Apple is aiming for nothing less than the perfect mobile ad.
But sometimes perfect is the enemy of good, and if rumors that have been circulating are to be believed, Apple's quest for the perfect mobile ad is driving advertisers crazy. It's also driving them away from the advertising solution that's supposed to help them.
According to Business Insider, Adidas may have thrown in the towel on its multi-million dollar iAd campaign because of Apple's micromanagement:
Adidas supposedly pulled its $10+ million ad campaign from the iAd program because Apple CEO Steve Jobs was being too much of a control freak. According to one industry exec, Adidas decided to cancel its iAds after Apple rejected its creative concept for the third time.
Fact or fiction? There's no official word yet, but Adidas wouldn't be the first iAd advertiser to have second thoughts about iAds, and it's always been known that Apple planned to exert an unusual level of control over iAds creative.
Of course, Apple's keen eye and sense of style has been a contributor to the success of its own products and therefore it isn't too farfetched to believe that advertisers would give Apple the benefit of the doubt, even if grudgingly. But Apple must walk a fine line. Exert too little control over creative and iAd probably won't live up to the expectations Apple set; exert too much control and iAd will be unattractive to marketers.
Apple's challenge in dealing with advertisers, of course, is that advertisers know their brands better than Apple does. Apple isn't an agency but in many ways, it's trying to be one with iAd. This could be a deadly mix when combined with an unhealthy desire for control, and expectations that were unrealistic to begin with. It's also problematic that Apple competes in a market in which companies have to get product right (or as close to right as possible) the first time around. After all, if you ship a crummy new device that is a year in the making, lots of money is lost. Yet in the world of advertising, failure can be a good thing. Not every campaign will succeed, but the data collected from failed campaigns can be just as valuable as the data collected from successful campaigns.
That in a nutshell is, in my opinion, the apparent disconnect Apple must resolve if iAd is ever to live up to the hype. iAds don't have to be perfect. They have to be good most of the time. But they never will be if Apple doesn't allow iAd advertisers to launch campaigns, monitor the results and improve them. In other words, if Apple isn't willing to allow its clients to risk failure with their iAd campaign, iAd will inevitably fail.
Photo credit: whatcounts via Flickr.