Beyond banners: What's an iAd?

In April, Apple introduced a new advertising platform for in-application ads on the iPhone. iAd, as it’s called, will afford application developers a new revenue stream added to the existing paid application and in-app purchase models. This innovative platform will give advertisers greater access to an increasingly sophisticated mobile audience.

iAds won’t feel like banners

Integrated with the iPhone/iPad operating system, iAds will have access to many of the same Application Programming Interfaces as apps. When users interact with an iAd, they won’t go to a website. Instead, they’ll experience additional content within the app. Imagine a game that utilizes the accelerometer on the device. Or a coupon that can show users nearby stores via GPS. Both are possible with an iAd.

iAds will change mobile advertising

Prior to iAd, the iPhone Operation System (OS) offered two advertising options: apps as highly interactive promotional tools that required users to download them, and traditional banner ads offering a click-through to the web. The second option avoided a download but failed to offer a rich experience. iAds offer a blend of both approaches. They won’t require users to download an app promoting a product nor do they route them to a sub-par mobile website. The iAd delivers a rich experience that blends the best qualities of banner ads and apps.

iAds offer robust targeting options

Targeting online advertisements isn’t a new concept, but the iAd platform takes it a step further. By owning the software on your device, Apple is able to offer advertisers new targeting options based upon more than just websites, visit history or general location. The new options include application preferences, music passions, movie and television genre interests. This enables advertisers to deliver more precise messages to users, potentially reducing waste in advertising spends.

iAds will take off

Apple has said that developers can add iAd support to their apps “in an afternoon.” And by giving this new revenue stream to creators of free applications, who will receive 60 percent of iAd revenue, broad adoption is a virtual certainty. We’re already seeing iAd-capable apps in Apple’s App Store.

Now is the time to start brainstorming compelling ideas for highly interactive, location-aware advertising. Oh, don’t forget to brush up on HTML 5. There isn’t any Flash here in Apple land.

P.S. I wrote this on my iPad.