Blog Post

Ad blocking is not enough: 3 challenges Apple will face in pushing iAd

Gilad is the founder and CEO of Moburst. 

Back in 2010 when Apple first launched its advertising platform, the company made the festive promise to capture 50 percent of the market. Today, Apple admits to a somewhat misguided vision and iAd’s position in the mobile advertising field can thus be summoned in two words: unfulfilled potential.

Apple’s recent decision to block ads from iOS 9 allows the company to force mobile marketers to place advertisements through its own network. This decision follows a series of moves made by the company in the past year that are all meant to promote iAd. Such steps include introducing programmatic iAd buys for iTunes Radio, a collaboration with Rubicon and AdRoll for ad automation and retargeting, launching iAd in over 100 countries and integrating Apple Pay to allow for direct purchasing.

These steps are beneficial if Apple’s goal is to make the most out of iPhone advertising, but they are no way near enough if the company is interested in taking over the mobile marketing field as a whole, and as we know, Apple is not one to settle for second place.

And so, before we announce Apple as the new dominant force in advertising, we must first consider the company’s corporate DNA and values, the inevitable clash between them, and what it takes in order to make it big in this arena. The following list presents three interesting challenges that Apple is expected to face on this new path, and how dealing with these challenges would affect app developers and marketers.

Keep your enemies closer

On Apple’s way to become a force to be reckoned with in the mobile advertising field, the company will have to go behind enemy lines. Android devices make up over 80 percent of the market and ignoring Android is more than just giving up a market share – it’s basically giving up. If Apple will decide to bring iAd to the competing OS, it will require more than a few adjustments for the company to succeed where we least expect it.

Battle of the giants

Apple is entering a field that is not only ultra-lucrative, but also extremely competitive, which happens to be dominated by Google – the queen of advertising. The competition between the two will now reach a new level and get very real and even more brutal. The two titans are joined by Facebook and the result is a gladiator’s match, with developers and marketers as the crowd.

Getting personal

For mobile marketers, the real goldmine in iAd is access to users’ personal data. The company could provide advertisers with a way to reach customers far more precisely, and get unique and sought-after value. The problem here is that Apple is known for being very protective of its users’ privacy, poking fun at Google for turning the users into the product. Before Apple can make such a drastic change, though, the company will first have to get off its high horse.

Apple will have to loosen up its tight grip on user data for this advantage to go from potentially great to great. Even if such a move will cause a certain level of antagonism on the users’ side, for marketers and developers this could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

The said challenges are never simple, and in this case Apple’s size could interfere with making drastic changes that require flexibility. It’s not easy for Apple to stop being… well, Apple. Despite the worries surrounding Apple’s latest move, mobile marketers can also feel the anticipation and excitement in the air. The mobile arena is never boring, but things are about to become more intense and interesting than ever.

Gilad Bechar is the Founder & CEO of Moburst, a global mobile marketing agency helping first tier startups and brands grow their mobile business. 

3 Responses to “Ad blocking is not enough: 3 challenges Apple will face in pushing iAd”

  1. Mark Granger

    The iAd banner is the most poorly utilized bit of screen real estate I have ever seen. It takes up a fairly big chunk of your very expensive iPhone screen and all it does is show the same few ads over and over again. Most users get annoyed and then quickly learn to ignore it or run some other app. The best thing it does is get them to pay to turn off the ads. This is a rather easy problem to fix. Apple needs to show useful information and news along with the ads. Location aware information and ads could tell you about offers in your own area as well as services and attraction nearby with a button to tap to direct you there. Local weather, local news, road delays ahead, sport score updates for your favorite teams, the possibilities are endless. This will cause users to pay attention to the iAd bar so that they may actually notice the ads. If the iAd bar had information useful to most users, they may actually opt to have it turned on and more app developers would give them that option.

  2. “Android devices make up over 80 percent of the market and ignoring Android is more than just giving up a market share – it’s basically giving up. If Apple will decide to bring iAd to the competing OS”

    You’re measuring the market in terms of devices and not capital. This is a kooky way of measuring a “market”. iOS devices represent over 75% of the market in terms of capital.

    • Martin K.

      What probably matters first is how many eyeballs you reach, not how much users were willing to hock for overpriced Apple equipment. Nothing kooky about that.