This week, Steve Jobs announced the new iPhone 4 at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC). Along with the introduction of the newest Apple smartphone came the unveiling of iOS 4, the new operating system for iPad and iPhone, and iAds, a new mobile advertising platform. According to Jobs, iAds will benefit advertisers, developers and users alike by simplifying the mobile advertising experience. Because iAds is built into iOS 4, advertisers can quickly and easily integrate their campaigns into the entire iPhone experience. Meanwhile, developers benefit by reaping 60 percent of the advertising revenue generated by their applications. This, as Jobs explained, will subsidize the costs of developing high quality software and will encourage more developers to offer better games, utilities and apps for free. Even the advertisements themselves will be improved. Embedded iAds can be fully animated and immersive without being obtrusive. Users can click on ads to view them fullscreen and interact with the content without leaving the video, app or webpage they are viewing.
In spite of the promise that iAds shows for developers and users, controversy continues to swirl over Apple’s perceived proprietary and closed business philosophy. The iAds network bars all but "independent” companies from collecting analytics data from their ads. "Independent” has been interpreted to mean companies that are not affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices or mobile operating systems. In other words, Apples competitor’s: Google, Microsoft and Adobe.
This move—as well as the introduction of Safari Reader, which selectively removes certain advertisements from web content—has been seen by Apple’s critics as a way to perhaps unfairly bully the competition off of the iPhone. While advertisers may not be completely barred from bringing their commercial messages to the iPhone, they will be prevented from collecting valuable analytical data. That includes the geographic location, date, referring page or app and other data that helps marketing campaign managers report on how effective their efforts are. This will make an advertising campaign targeting iPhone users—a vast and relatively affluent audience—a hard sell. Mobile advertising companies won’t be able to prove that they are delivering results to their clients, and thus they may opt to take their marketing dollars elsewhere. A significant exodus from the platform may have the opposite effect on the quality and proliferation of free apps (contrary to the benefits purported by Apple), as many developers earn much of their revenue through mobile advertising campaigns, argue critics of the controversial iAds clause.
Based on what was revealed during WWDC, iAds is set to revolutionize the ease and impact of mobile advertising on the iPhone—but for which advertisers? The answer will come on July 1st, when the first iAds debut.