How the iPad Helps Mobile Ad Firms — and Hurts Traditonal Online Advertisers

Mobile marketers are wasting no time trying to cash in on the iPad hype. Jumptap this morning crowed that it was the first to offer a mobile ad solution for Apple’s new tablet, and Motally is extending its analytics offering to support the gadget. The early moves indicate that the iPad will be a battleground between the pure-play mobile advertisers and traditional Internet ad firms. And the lack of Flash support on the iPad tilts the field heavily in favor of the mobile guys.

It’s an easy move for mobile advertising firms to embrace the iPad. The tablet runs the familiar Safari browser and will support all those iPhone apps that have fueled recent growth in the mobile ad space, and which — if recent online trends are any indication — is poised for huge growth. And wireless ad firms are salivating over the iPad’s knockout 9.7-inch touchscreen, which will help marketers make their pitches in more effective ways without crowding out the content that users are looking for in the first place — a feature that mobile phones can’t hope to achieve.

So the mobile guys can easily take advantage of the iPad, but what about the traditional online advertising firms that already have relationships with the big media companies¬† that want to be on the iPad? After all, the device looks to be a great platform for accessing news and other online content from traditional media outlets, which depend largely on Internet advertising dollars. The traditional online ad players aren’t going to want to give that up.

But most of the online ads supporting the likes of the New York Times or Conde Naste magazines — or most other ad-supported sites, for that matter — are rendered in Flash. So advertisers that want to sell next to Thomas Friedman or in The New Yorker have a few choices: they can invest heavily to rebuild those ads to strip out Flash and make them iPad-friendly, they can lean on the ad-serving platform Apple acquired when it picked up Quattro Wireless, or they can do business with one of the countless smaller players in mobile advertising that deliver ads to the iPhone and other handsets.

Traditional online ad firms have struggled mightily to gain a foothold in wireless, with many having to buy their way in via acquisition if they want a piece. So if the iPad can find a sizable audience, it could substantially increase the value of the pure-play mobile ad guys still left on the field.

Image courtesy Flickr user Serge Melki.

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