iPhone Spawns New Ad Networks

iphoneHighlighting growing interest in iPhone-tailored advertising, a pair of mobile ad networks Thursday announced new initiatives for the Apple device.

AdMob introduced new ad units that take advantage of the iPhone's touchscreen features while JumpTap unveiled a mobile system for placing ads in iPhone applications. Both new ad programs were launched in connection with the MobileBeat 2008 conference in Sunnyvale, Calif.

The announcements come on the heels of the July 11 release of the iPhone 3, which has been flying off Apple store shelves faster than the original model a year ago. Aiming to ride the renewed buzz, AdMob debuted a set of eight customized ad formats for the iPhone offering marketers more dynamic display options.

The platform's key element is an "Action" icon within ad units that allows users to launch video (via YouTube), audio, maps and Web sites as well as initiate calls and download content from Apple's iTunes and App stores. A separate "Canvas" unit lets marketers create expandable ads with custom features.

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The new ads can run both within iPhone's Safari browser and in the new group of applications built for the device. The ads sell for $30 on a CPM basis for brand campaigns and 30 cents to 40 cents on a pay-per-click basis.

"We're giving people the first rich media ads in mobile," said Jason Spero, vice president of marketing for AdMob, of the custom format. For "The Mummy," for instance, Universal Pictures is running ads that include a trailer and a tool for finding local showtimes.

Other brand advertisers using the new iPhone ads include Ford, Electronic Arts, Land Rover and Jaguar.

On the publishing side, AccuWeather, MovieTickets, Mippin, Flirtomatic and Loopt are employing the AdMob units on their iPhone sites.

In a post about the new iPhone ad formats, Julie Ask, a research director at JupiterResearch, noted that users can interact with the Canvas ads without having to leave existing sessions.

"This should be very attractive to both media companies and advertisers," wrote Ask on the Jupiter blog Thursday. "Media companies don't lose their audience while advertisers get more real estate and interactivity."

She added that enabling direct response and driving product sales are two of the top five or so objectives marketers have with regard to mobile advertising, according to recent Jupiter research.

The iPhone has grabbed marketers' attention because a higher proportion of it users browse the mobile Web than on average. A study earlier this year by M:Metrics found 85% of iPhone owners accessed the mobile Internet.

Buzz about the device and its user-friendly interface have also helped raise awareness of the mobile Web. Based on data from its mobile ad network, AdMob reported that impressions on the iPhone and iPod touch grew 32% in June over May. The company also said mobile Web use overall had doubled in the last year.

To help promote the new ads, AdMob said it would also give away $1 million in advertising to developers that create the most compelling mobile apps, sites and services. Each developer selected will get $5,000 worth of free advertising.

JumpTap, meanwhile, has launched an ad network for iPhone apps with analytics supplied by Pinch Media. The startup operates a service that lets iPhone developers track how their applications are being used.

"By adding ad-supported iPhone applications to JumpTap's mobile advertising network, we can immediately provide high-quality brand advertisers to our developers," said Greg Yardley, co-founder and CEO of Pinch.

JumpTap says its mobile search and ad platform reaches 150 million subscribers through alliances with 17 wireless operators.

More than 800 applications have been released since the App Store opened July 12, with the most popular free programs drawing 250,000 unique users, according to Pinch.

Others launching ad networks around iPhone applications include AppLoop, Greystripe (for games) and MediaLets.

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