Stand back, Steve Jobs. Randall Rothenberg is taking on the iPad to make the Internet safe for advertising. In a blog post Thursday, the Interactive Advertising Bureau head declared the new Apple tablet a threat to advertising as the latest attempt to "semi-privatize" the Web.
Walled gardens are spreading across the new media landscape from social networks like Twitter and Facebook to Amazon's Kindle to Microsoft's Xbox and Sony's Kindle. Citing Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff's recent essay on the "Splinternet," he warns that all forms of media "are about to become gated intranets -- with significant implications for marketers, media and agencies."
In the iPad's case, Rothenberg takes issue specifically with its lack of support for Adobe Flash, a core element of much online display advertising. Ad executives interviewed Wednesday also cited the iPad's lack of Flash as a drawback but welcomed the device's larger screen size as a plus for mobile marketing.
But the iPad still is not as bad as Amazon's Kindle, "more akin to a company town, with everything from access to product offerings to pricing tightly managed." Increasingly, "degree of openness" will be the key differentiator among all the walled gardens springing up around the Web, he argues. Netflix streaming is fairly close, Boxee is more open. But overall, fragmentation is growing.
Rothenberg's solution? "Supply chain détente." Device makers should join together to adopt consistent standards to allow the advertising and marketing to flourish. And to the extent that walled gardens impede growth, publishers have to redouble efforts to include marketing services in their offerings.
But Randy, hasn't the problem with the Internet been too much inventory, not too little?
Rothenberg is 100% correct to be critical. Something else that people are not talking about is that Apple is creating an uneven playing field, by enabling YouTube's flash and no one else's out of the box. I see an anti-trust suit brewing here. I think there's evidence that Adobe will strike back.
Since I'm a fan of diversity and an enemy of all manner of homogeneity in culture and society, I also see this as a bad thing. I guess you could call me a "liberal". I would go so far as to say that this is what makes the internet a good, rather than bad, thing. Even if it means we have to put up with a lot of noise.
Perhaps a highly targeted IAB education campaign targeting behavioral targeting advocates who target publishers and advertisers and agencies who want to target everyone with highly targeted ads that no one clearly wants (except the IAB and the targeting advocates) would help.
Better yet, just pick up the phone give 'em both a call...
The ipad is a non-event. No USB, no SD, no Flash, crappy network support, limited memory, no camera, the list goes on. A few iMoonies will buy it so they can feel smug and read books on it (they have something for this already, it's called paper). Why would anybody (except those poor souls slavishly devoted to anything Jobs puts out) want a halfway point between laptop and cell phone. It's too small to do anything really useful and too large to stick in your pocket. In 5 years these will be in the Apple museum alongside the Newton.