This month Apple starts to roll out its iAd mobile ad network in Europe. The service will go live in the UK first, with launches in France and Germany early next year and other countries throughout 2011. European launch partners will include Renault, Nespresso, Citi and Evian. iAd will offer advertising inside apps initially on the iPhone and iPod Touch with plans to incorporate the iPad in the future.
iAd launched in the US earlier this year and Apple estimates 21% of the total US mobile ad spend for the second half of the year will be spent on iAd campaigns. The Wall Street Journal has painted a more downbeat forecast. It claims that only 2 of the 17 launch partners in the US (Nissan and Unilever) managed to run campaigns in July, with only three more running campaigns in August. Some of perceived reasons behind such a low initial take up is the cost of approx “£600,000 plus per campaign” and, Apple’s “tight control on the creative aspects of ad-making”. These requirements mean only the most “determined and richest brands” can afford an iAd campaign. Agencies and brands have called for the cost of a campaign to be reduced to around £100k and for more tracking data to be provided. Currently “you have to trust the data Apple send you”. It remains to be seen whether Apple will loosen their control or if their rivals will be able to capitalise on this. Google’s AdMob and Millennial Media are believed to have adopted a more flexible approach, varied their prices to brands and allowed advertisers to run “test campaigns”.
Despite these teething issues, iAd has received positive feedback from Nissan, who reportedly spent $1m on a campaign for the Leaf, their new electric car. The company claimed their iAd campaign had “five times the clicking through rate of their normal online campaign”. Only time will tell if iAd will dominate the mobile ad market. However, as brands and agencies embrace this growing market it is essential that they ensure that their campaigns are delivered effectively and efficiently.