One week ago, Apple announced a mobile advertising platform that it will launch alongside the iPhone's new OS 4.0 software this summer. Dubbed iAd, it will integrate interactive, rich media ads into iPhone, iPod touch and iPad apps. Apple will host and sell the ads, giving the app developers 60 percent of the profits.
You don't have to be in the business of developing iPhone or iPad apps to benefit from this program, though. Apple claims that there will be one billion ad opportunities per day, and it shouldn't be a surprise that iPhone and iPad owners are in a demographic sweet spot.
Want to understand the interest that tech professionals have in the platform? Here are five ways iAd will open up new channels for reaching consumers and change the way your SMB can communicate with them about your goods or services.
1. More Consumers Will Experience Your Ads
While most mobile ads require a viewer to leave the app he or she is using — discouraging him or her from clicking to begin with — iAds operate within the app. They can be customized with interactive content, downloads, videos, and other draws, but they won't impede a consumer's task.
Here's the pitch: Because of the value added by the interactive and rich media features, and because the consumers can easily get back to what they were doing at any time, those consumers will be much more likely to choose to investigate your ads to see what you have to offer.
2. iAds Will Guide Consumers Straight to Your Product
Let's say a consumer chooses to look at your ad, and he or she likes the message you're sending. When that consumer chooses to buy your product, iAds will provide an easy path for him or her to take to purchase the goods or services you're offering.
In the past, mobile ads would direct interested users to a Web site to make a purchase; that's usually slow and unwieldy even on an advanced smartphone. iAds will let you sell things from within the ad without confusing or interrupting the user; you won't even have to make him or her wait. And if your business is retail or local, the app can use the iPhone's GPS and maps features to direct a consumer to your nearest location.
3. Consumers Will Be Engaged on an Emotional Level
If you're a practically-minded businessperson, this one might not capture your fancy at first glance — but it should. Television ads are still the most popular medium for big brands because they can provoke an emotional response. Great advertising is about more than sharing raw information.
That wasn't possible on mobile ads before, but iAds can include games, videos, copy and images that connect with the consumer on a deeper level. The results could be greater brand loyalty, more engagement and increased sales.
4. There Will Be Opportunities for Business of All Shapes and Sizes
As Apple's television commercials often say, there's an iPhone, iPad or iPod touch app for just about everything. There are apps tailored to specific interests, age groups, ethnic identities and locations. The thousands of apps in the Apple App Store represent thousands of unique opportunities to reach exactly the demographics and numbers that are appropriate for your business.
For example, businesses spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise in the public transit systems of cities like Chicago or New York. But many of the tech-savvy pedestrians who use Chicago's El trains or New York's subways use iPhone apps to plan train routes and track arrival times. You could advertise for your Chicago or New York business by advertising in the trip planner apps in addition to, or instead of the trains.
5. iAds Are Easy and Cheap to Produce
iAds are made with the new HTML5 scripting language, a new rival to Adobe Flash, based on the same language that's used to make web pages. HTML5 is much easier and cheaper to work with than an advanced development language like C++, which is used to make native iPhone apps from scratch. Your SMB can either find outside help or develop internally at very low cost; it will be a much cheaper option than shooting a quality television ad.