updated 12:20 pm EDT, Mon August 16, 2010
Production taking weeks longer than usual
Apple's insistence on controlling output -- combined with the task of learning the platform -- is severely affecting the rollout of iAd campaigns, according to several ad executives. The Wall Street Journal notes that of 17 official launch partners, only Nissan and Unilever had iAd campaigns for much of July. Since then, only Citigroup, Disney and JC Penney have joined the fray. Others are still in planning.
Apple is said to be maintaining tough control of the creative aspects of ads, imposing restrictions not normally seen in the industry. The result is extended delays, with spots taking approximately eight to 10 weeks to finish, longer than usual for mobile advertising. Some ads have taken as much as two weeks extra to complete, one source says.
Beyond expense and inconvenience, the situation has already produced a casualty in the form of Chanel, which was originally promoted as a launch partner but now says it does not have any iAd campaigns planned. Sources say that Citigroup is one of the companies that has been experiencing delays. Officially, the financial institution says it is "taking a phased approach and working closely with Apple to ensure everything is working properly."
Some of the Journal's sources claim that Apple underestimated how difficult the advertising business would be, also suggesting that the company has yet to learn how to cope with ad firms. Because agencies aren't yet allowed to handle production themselves, some are said to be unfamiliar with the limits of iAd or how to use it. No SDK for the platform is available, and while Apple does provide data on user behavior and options to restrict where an ad appears, there is no way to pinpoint where and in which apps an ad is appearing.
Apple's in-ad app downloads are believed to be a stopgap solution for the lack of formal campaigns, giving developers simple banners which can be used to push their own titles. Under the "iAd for Developers" program, promoters are allegedly being charged 25 cents per ad tap. This represents a sharp reduction from the $2 for a normal campaign.
Some positive outcomes are nevertheless reported to be stemming from iAd. Nissan says that it has had "exceptional results to date," with a spot for the Leaf generating five times the clickthrough rate of a web campaign. One source alleges that over 10,000 developers signed on as iAd participants in July.
Beyond the handful of launch partners, other advertisers now on board include Dictionary.com, buying service Groupon, and myYearbook, a social networking service.