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.

Patricio Robles

Published 4 October, 2010 by Patricio Robles

Patricio Robles is a tech reporter at Econsultancy. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments (3)

Alec Kinnear

Alec Kinnear, Creative Director at Foliovision

Good on Apple making sure that the advertisers can't cheapen their product.

Why should marketing be shoddy and annoying?

Lose the battle but win the war.

almost 8 years ago


Darren Roberts, Director of Digital Operations at DLKW Lowe

Having been through the development of the 1st UK iAd, it is clear to see that the sales pitch for the iAd promises more than the handset can actually deliver. 

This is less about 'creative control' on Apple's behalf, but rather 'expectation control'. 

I strongly disagree that advertisers would make the product cheaper.  Our Creatives were held back from 80% of their ideas because despite Apple agreeing they were "awesome" ideas, they couldn't be done 'because the handset isn't there yet'.  iAds aren't apps and don't use the same codebase. They are essentially split into the following parts:

Pre-loader >Splash video > Navigation > Content areas

... which in old website money is - an animated splash page and an HTML site (albeit HTML5 of course).  Pretty straightforward and all the sexy stuff happens in a video. You can't access most of the handsets capability either.

Apple has a long way to go.  One thing is for sure though, the kudos of the handset/Apple makes an Agency and their Client produce a much better product - and ultimately spend more money doing it.  

over 7 years ago


Driving Theory Test

 There are good development tools and APIs for easily making good applications. 2) There is at least one killer application people really want. 

over 7 years ago

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