Apple iAds– what it means for local businesses

Apple iAd Steve Jobs demo

Did you see the above video?  In it, Steve Jobs is showing off the new Apple iAds, a direct competitor to Google AdSense and other ads that “just suck” on mobile devices.  For the desktop, “search is where it’s at,” asserts Jobs– but mobile devices are about apps, not search.  Given that the average iPhone or iPod touch user spends 30 minutes a day on their device, if you show ads every 3 minutes, that’s 10 ads per user per day.  With 100 million users, you have 1 billion ad impressions per day.

Jobs claims that iAds are superior to traditional text ads because they are more engaging and interactive– possessing the emotional content of TV but with perhaps even more interactivity than the web and TV (which has no interactivity). iAds also are built into the iPhone operating system, so that when shown, they do not yank the user out of where they were, but are built right in.  He asserts that iAds will have a higher CTR because of this.

Then Steve Jobs went on to demonstrate a couple of showcase ads that Apple made– one with Toy Story 3 and then a Nike ad.  Both featured a video, a game, an app download, a photo gallery, and other ad widgets.  Very impressive and clearly not something that a small business could ever dream of affording to create– any more than they could produce the next Pirates of the Caribbean film.


As a local business, your advertising dollars have to drive more business– measured in phone calls, coupon redemptions, information requests, and more people walking into your store, office, restaurant, or establishment.  These iAds are basically supercharged TV commercials that don’t encourage conversion.  You’re not trying to promote a theatrical release, the new 2010 Air Jordan shoe, or other entertainment product.   If you’re a dentist, personal injury attorney, roofer, veterinarian, or other types of local business– odds are that your business is not quite as exciting.

For BlitzMetrics, we think that driving you more measurable business is quite exciting.  However, the iAd will not be relevant to small businesses until there are pre-made templates that allow businesses to create videos with no more than a few clicks. If you think getting small businesses to create 90-character text ads for Google AdWords is hard, try getting them to customize an interactive experience.

Enter Google to the rescue from out of the blue– Search Stories gives us a glimpse of how simple templates might actually work.  Watch my 30-second example here. Now imagine if businesses could fill out a single registration form, upload a few images, choose a music type, and BAM— they have an interactive video experience that can be posted to their Facebook, Google AdWords, and Google TV Ads (yes, you can buy network TV time from AdWords), Facebook, and perhaps even the iPhone (if they ever allowed flash, as opposed to HMTL5).

In terms of the advertising battle between Google and Apple– I pick Google to continue to win in the small business space, while Apple grows with big brands that have big budgets.  The key to unlocking the local markets is simplicity– and while Apple is renowned for creating simplicity in user interface design, they do not have a demonstrated track record in advertising yet.  Players such as AdReady and TurnHere are making inroads in templated display ads and video, but have a long ways to go.

The point of being on a mobile device is taking advantage of a consumer that is on the move and likely to be spending money.  The phone knows where you are, so why not have a template that incorporates location into a local lead gen template?  Clearly, Apple is going after the big advertisers that don’t care about location, except for a token mapping application.  But for the millions of local small businesses out there– it’s a wide-open field.

If anyone has experience with iAds or wants to add to this discussion, I welcome comments.

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