Inspired by video game development, Yahoo has been working on a new advertising model for tablets, such as Apple's iPad, to provide another option for brands to tap its ad network. The strategy for the new screen moves more toward product placement similar to tactics seen in videos, television and movies, and away from banner and display ads typically used in mobile phones and on PCs.
The strategy gives advertisers support for interactive product placement through Wi-Fi connections, as well as 3G cellular service offered by telecom carrier AT&T. The iPad also has local memory and can cache information. The possibilities for product placement range from animation to video clips to mini games.
Mobile advertising has struggled to gain momentum during the past few years, but Apple's tablet introduces more power on a bigger screen. "On mobile you have to oversimplify the advertising message," says Sandeep Gupta, senior director of Yahoo applications. "The tablet may be bigger, but because it's more entertaining, it's less intrusive."
Gupta calls the ad model a "user interface" that integrates into Yahoo's ad platform. The iPad ad offering will initially become available for the Yahoo Entertainment application introduced on April 3, the day Apple began selling the iPad. Consumers can download the free application from Apple's iPad apps store. Gupta says the ad platform didn't make the first release because of deadline crunches.
Engineers at Yahoo have begun to create a dynamic layout, so when the consumer reloads the home screen -- which resembles a living room with couch, magazines and television -- they will get a different experience. Perhaps the next time a consumer launches the application they see a can of Coca-Cola, cup filled with Starbuck's coffee, area rug from IKEA, and Bose speakers hooked up to the TV.
The HTML 5 content driven to the device from servers makes the advertising possibilities endless. Since the iPad supports Wi-Fi, and a later version cellular service, clicking on a can of Coca-Cola can take the consumer to a Web site, downloadable gift, coupons, and more.
Yahoo will expect brands and their agency partners to create the interactive art that marketing reps at Yahoo can drop into its ad platform. Gupta says the ability to dynamically change the content on the Yahoo Entertainment home page also provides options for ad targeting.
"We know interactive ads work because last year we ran fun fantasy football ads that had a much higher click-through rate than straight banner ads," Gupta says.
The tablet ad model will need to easily scale as more hardware manufacturers bring devices online. Hewlett-Packard also leaked news this week of a tablet on the horizon. Analysts believe about 50 competitors will bring versions to market. The iPad sold 300,000 units on the first day.