If you follow the tech space or watch the evening news, you will have heard/read that Apple is charging initial iPad advertisers millions of dollars to be the first marketers on their devices as part of the iAd product rollout.
Journalists (inclusive of bloggers) initially highlighted the price tag in most of their rants as very high. Yes, it is high (keep out the riff raff) but what is of importance here is nor the price rag but something very different.
Apple is all about controlling the experience for the end user. This sometimes doesn’t make them friends amongst the developer community but ultimately satisfies consumers (just look at their stock price). Apples foray into advertising has started with the Quattro acquisition and they are methodically working towards rolling out an experience for their users that creates a mutually beneficially relationship between Madison Ave and consumers.
What is most important to me about this rollout is that apple can set the bar so damn high for the initial advertisers and get away with it. There are virtually no other brands out in the world that can set this bar: upfront millions of dollars, Apple designs/develops ads (with minimum agency interaction), and no guarantee of launch date. When I had my in-game advertising company and we were doing huge integrations into top titles from the likes of EA and Activision, if we demanded these types of terms, Madison Ave would have laughed at us.
Apple has all the leverage in the world here. Creative departments and agencies have grown up on Macs, Apples stock is soaring, and Steve Jobs is the man Madison Ave wants to be; all of this works in the favor of Apple’s roll out for iAd.
The iAd roll out needs to be and will be treated like the guest list and dress code of the latest club opening in Downtown LA. Partners will be handpicked with stringent rules in order to set the bar for future marketing partners. Who and how Apple lets people in will influence the future success of the program.
Oh by the way: there are other ways to advertise on “iPad content” without having to pay these huge initial fees. While they aren’t iAd certified, they may deliver a similar or even beyond experience:
1. Sponsor an iPad app
2. Purchase ads on websites that have high viewership by iPad readers
3. Create your own iPad app
4. Buy standardized ads within apps