03 August, 2010

Intern Sweatshop: It's an iWorld and We're Just Living in iT

So by now I’m sure you’ve all heard of the iAd from Apple—the new mobile advertisement network that merges the interactivity of online ads with the emotional elements of television ads, or so Steve Jobs would have us believe.

The way it works is banner ads appear on most free Apple applications. Click on the banner then open up (cue booming voices) “THE iAd EXPERIENCE.” Then you shake, tilt, scroll, and search the “app-vertisement” however you like, just like you interact with many other apps.

The “revolutionary” iAd experience has participating companies paying $1 million to join and others, such as Nissan, up to $10 million for exclusivity. Wouldn’t you love to borrow a couple seeds from their money tree?

But wait, iAds are only available to iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch owners, who total about 85 million users, and only represent a small quantity of the much larger Smartphone population. Furthermore, the selective group of these people who may come across the ad may pass by and possibly (re: probably) not even click. And Apple even offers an alternative for those who want to avoid the ads altogether—purchase the full version of the app.

So with a questionable audience size and ROI, why are these companies even signing up? Well, being associated with one of the most well-established companies doesn’t hurt, for one, and puts youthful Apple eyeballs on your products. It’s also a longer time with the audience than traditional TV advertising. And the caliber of people who own these expensive gadgets, mostly have a sizable amount of disposable income.

My take: That’s a good, specific audience, but a small audience for your $10 million - never mind the question of whether or not people will even click, which makes me think Apple has totally conned businesses into buying into the iAd platform. And they’ll continue to do so. But soon will Google create a competitive alternative for its Droid platform? When will Windows follow suit? Or will they leave it to Apple to rake in all the revenue? If you don’t see these competitors jumping on the wagon, it’ll be because it really isn’t worth the investment.

As an iConsumer, I think these ads are especially annoying. But as an advertising student, I see Apple simply basking in their inenious innovation as they rip off some of our country’s most recognizably wealthy brands. But hey, that’s their fault if they’re not as smart as a 20-year-old college student. Excellent play Steve Jobs. Where do I send my resume?

For more information on the iAd experience: check out the video demonstrations.

--Cristina Burke, Creative Dept. iNtern

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