The Grand Machinations of Apple and Steve Jobs are about to run into the sharpest knife in town.
This knife has two blades.
One is called Real Life.
The other is called Reality.
And they cut without mercy.
The target that this knife will be aiming at is Apple’s new iAd scheme, which Jobs says will be targeted at the iPod Touch and iPhone “demographic.” (Which is precisely nonsense, because “demographic” doesn’t work that way. That’s like saying “Pepsi Generation.” Ahem.)
Although we don’t yet know much about iAd beyond Apple’s official statement:
iAd, Apple’s new mobile advertising platform, combines the emotion of TV ads with the interactivity of web ads. Today, when users click on mobile ads they are almost always taken out of their app to a web browser, which loads the advertiser’s webpage. Users must then navigate back to their app, and it is often difficult or impossible to return to exactly where they left. iAd solves this problem by displaying full-screen video and interactive ad content without ever leaving the app, and letting users return to their app anytime they choose. iPhone OS 4 lets developers easily embed iAd opportunities within their apps, and the ads are dynamically and wirelessly delivered to the device. Apple will sell and serve the ads, and developers will receive an industry-standard 60 percent of iAd revenue.
There are the words of Steve Jobs himself after the formal presentation that must also be added to the record:
Q: Is there going to be an approval process for the ads, much like the App Store does, because you’re going to be hosting?
A: I think there will be some boundaries, like you can’t run any ad on ABC. There are some ads we’d rather not run, but the concept are that these advertisers will pay to run ads, and they’ll pay to run ads that are well received by the audience. I’m not sure there’s going to be anything but a light touch.
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
So, once again, Apple wants to act as a “filter” to what people can see on devices that we purchase.
While Jobs demonstrated three impressive sample mockups of ads, all were for big brand names that generally elicit little controversy.
That is hardly the real world of advertising.
The real world of advertising also includes both political as well as advocacy advertising.
In case Apple has forgotten, the real world we live in includes elections. Perhaps Steve Jobs ignores TV, so maybe he hasn’t seen the kind of slinging that happens during campaigns. Let me give him some examples.
A memorable national political ad:
And this candidate:
Let’s see another one from him:
And since iAd will eventually offer location-based targeting, let’s not forget local political ads, such as this:
As for advocacy, here are some real-life samples:
What if a Church wants to advertise? How can anyone be against a Church, right? OK, so what about this Church:
Now, what if a Church simply wanted to advertise its hymn?
Oh, Apple. You are in for a world of hurt.
You see, you have now made me damned glad I grew up in New York City.
I grew up with talk radio. I have seen our cherished freedom of expression up close. Even with the FCC’s Fairness Doctrine ruling our airwaves back then, there were still memorable and “controversial” guests — and hosts! — on those shows.
But once the Fairness Doctrine was trashed, things really heated up.
Today, things are absolutely boiling! Have any of you at Apple listened to the “discourse” on the public airwaves these days? It makes Internet rage look like the pouting of little schoolchildren.
The thing is this, Apple. Once you start rejecting political ads, you’re going to wake up all those slumbering politicians who haven’t been giving your plans any scrutiny. Hell, once you reject the first ad from a religion, you’re going to wake up their lobbyists, who will then start waking up the politicians.
Politicians who run things like the Justice Department, FCC, FTC, and Interstate Commerce Commission. All those agencies that are supposed to look out for the public interest. Monopolistic practices and Restraint of Trade are two things that immediately sprint to mind.
So, Steve, give Bill Gates a call. Let him weep on your shoulder about the mauling he received from all of them — and the one Microsoft still gets from the European Union!
iAd is a bold move. It’s impressive, the technology behind it. But that gee-whiz unicorn and bunny rabbit vision of things is going to really bleed when it gets stabbed.
And get stabbed it will.
The question is, will it take all of Apple down with it?