iAd Solves Some Problems With Mobile Ads — But Not The Most Important Ones

Apple iPhone Os4 iAd

The iPhone has already been credited with helping to lift the mobile ad space out of obscurity, and Apple’s new ad platform will further capture the attention of marketers and ad-agency creatives, helping to drive new revenues.

But iAd’s impact will be limited for two reasons. The first is the lack of a standard metric for mobile advertising, which continues to hold back online ad spending in general. Until Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) can solve that problem — outside app analytics companies like Flurry are certainly trying — mobile buys will continue to be modest and mostly experimental.

To put it in perspective, eMarketer says marketers spent just $416 million on mobile ads in 2009 — compared to the $22.7 billion spent across the web last year, according to the latest numbers from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The other constraint about iAd is that it’s mostly a self-interested solution. It’s app-centric, and the majority of the mobile universe doesn’t use an iPhone and that won’t change anytime soon.

In his presentation earlier today, Jobs expressed a sentiment that even many mobile ad evangelists concede as well: “We think most of the mobile advertising really sucks. We thought we might be able to make some contributions.”

But the main contribution Jobs is talking about involves making the iPhone app experience a little less vexing. As Apple explains in its release, when users click on mobile ads, they’re almost always taken out of their app to a web browser, which loads the advertiser

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