A Downloadable Ad For iAd


Leave it to Apple to create an iPhone/iPad app treating ads created with its technology as art. The company's new app showcasing various iAd campaigns is an easy target for those who like to mock Apple's sense of self-regard. And ad technology competitors might quip that it's the only way Apple could get people to notice its ads. After all, the iAd platform hasn't revolutionized mobile advertising in quite the way Apple CEO Steve Jobs predicted at launch last year, and the $1 million upfront fee for iAd buys has since been cut in half.

The iAd Gallery app, introduced yesterday, is already drawing its share of wry comments from App Store users. "Finally, I can view all the ads I want without some stupid app getting in the way," wrote Adam Tyler, who gave the app a five-star rating (in a presumably sarcastic gesture). "Who knew that being subliminally mind controlled by companies could be so entertaining??" quipped Bob Sander about the iAd Gallery.

Still, another reviewer, Mark Boda, wrote: "I wanted something like this for a long time, and I personally believe that eventually every form of high end advertising will be on demand, when a user wants to switch shaving cream they will go to an app and see what variety exists, there is no need to force any kind of product on people when they don't want it...if the user knows they need a new car or shoes they will just look at the ads and search for the one they like most."

Hard to tell whether this comment is satirical or not, but what it's essentially describing is already here, in the form of branded apps that blur the distinction between marketing and functionality or marketing and content. Among the best known have been the Kraft iFood Assistant, the Zippo virtual lighter and Nike+ GPS app. But the launch of expensive branded apps, without knowing whether anyone will even find them, already seems to have slowed. The idea of on-demand advertising via a mobile app hasn't taken hold.

That's why marketers are still willing to pay for third-party advertising in games or other types of apps through iAd or other ad solutions. Marketers like to know they're getting some type of measurable audience in return for their advertising. The fact that their campaigns are getting any further exposure through the iAd Gallery is all the better for them because it's free. But no one should hold their breath waiting for brands on their own to launch high-profile campaigns as standalone apps.

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