iAd Is The Coming Fall Of Apple

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:

Jason Chen:

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.

Will you, Apple, reject ads from people such as Michael Savage, G. Gordon Liddy, Rush Limbaugh, or Bob Grant, advertising their talk shows?

How will you deal with political ads, especially from people such as Lyndon LaRouche and Ron Paul, to name just two?

And what about advocacy ads from the Anti-Defamation League, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the Jewish Defense League, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and Planned Parenthood, to name a few?

And what about all those religions that want to propagate their messages? Like Scientology, Westboro Baptist Church, or Philadelphia Church of God, to name just three?

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?

17 responses to “iAd Is The Coming Fall Of Apple

  1. I don’t believe you will see any political, religious or similar ads on iAds; I’m pretty sure it’s only going to be used for retail products (and again, most likely products related to iPhone, Music, TV, Movies and Books. The areas Apple wants to sell stuff in).

  2. And that is where they will get into trouble. As iAd progresses and Apple has all kinds of juicy advertising demographic info, political parties are going to want that data to target the electorate. For Apple to say No is their doom.

  3. Hany Rashwan

    How is iAd any different than any other ad agency out there? The truth is that it’s not.

    Look at online ad agencies. I am or used to be a publisher with the top three Burst Media, Fastclick/ValueClick, and Tribal Fusion. Like any ad agency, they have rules. No porn, for example. But more importantly, they target users and in the end let them choose what goes on their website. So with those controls, I, who ran a site regularly visited by children had the option to say no to political, religious, and sex-related ads.

    The network’s filters varied. Some had me choose ‘no religious ads’ whereas others literally gave me a look at each and every ad that could run on my website and I could reject specific ones.

    Google’s adsense similarly allows a plethora of advertising into their system but give you filters to control your specific site.

    The same treatment online ad agencies give to website publishers, Apple will likely give to app developers.
    If iAd launches without these filters, then you mitt have a point but who honestly thinks that they will break away from ad agency norms and do a reckless move like that? Certainly nothing that Steve said would seem to indicate that that is their desire…

  4. None of the companies you’ve mentioned are Apple. Apple’s prominence — like Microsoft’s before it — makes it a target. Wait and see how this plays out.

  5. Wait a second. Apple was doing great without iAd and now suddenly because they have it and may filter *some* ads it will be their doom and fall?
    What are you smoking?

  6. >>>What are you smoking?

    Some great shit called Real Life. Try some.

  7. Again, not a sane argument. Apple’s advertising doesn’t take into account demographic info, and Apple has never historically released any (and they already have a lot on >200 million people, thanks to iTunes).

    iAd was created to help Apple sell more content (in-ad purchase of apps, for example) and get Google’s AdMob out of the App Store as quickly as possible.

  8. That is absolutely NOT how advertising works at all. Advertising is based on demographics. WTF do you think *Apple* and its ad agency uses to place ads, guesswork?! iAd will begin as Spray and Pray, but only until that juicy high-quality worth lots-o’-bucks demographic data starts pouring in.

  9. Oops… this whole article is wrong. Seriously wrong.

    Guess what? I’ve advertised on Google, Yahoo, and a host of other ad networks, both small and large.

    On EVERY SINGLE ONE of them, your ad has to be approved.

    Just try going to Google or Yahoo, or Stumbleupon with an add that goes against their T.O.S. it will be rejected faster than your head can spin.

  10. Wait and see. As the Internet continues to supplant TV and radio as the ad medium that can actually “break through” to people, the prominence of Apple will call into question all of those TOSes. But first will come Apple.

  11. EXCEPT AdMob ads in iPhone apps don’t have any idea who the user viewing them is. iPhone app ads are NOT based on demographics at all. Apple doesn’t allow any app or service to collect user data without the user doing it themself

  12. Oh, FFS, man. Advertising cannot exist with Spray and Pray. As Jobs said, they will LEARN from their ad firm acquisition. And just as Apple has changed the TOS for devs, they can easily change the TOS for collecting user data. As if they don’t have a ton of it already they can mine internally based on iTunes/App purchases! And funny no one asked the key question, “How did Apple determine that *30 minutes in an app* stat?”

  13. I think you are being to radical. Ericson Smith has a good point about all those other companies and specially Google.

    You can’t really consider Google as low profile and right now its ads reach one hell of a lot of people already.

  14. So you’re basically saying that even though Apple will behave like any other media company in terms of ads, they will get picked on because they are the famous Apple.

    If that’s it, then I’m inclined to believe you given all the crap already flying around just because they are the “evil” “arrogant” Apple.

  15. I don’t think I have ever noticed or clicked on a Google ad on my desktop screen. Phones are a different matter. These ads will be within the app and, as demonstrated, compelling to click on because of all the extras they can contain. As I replied earlier, these ads are likely to be the new break-through medium. And that will give them a visibility no others have yet had. Politicians and advocacy groups will especially want to get in on that.

  16. Cane Sama,

    I may have misunderstood Steve Jobs’ presentation, or I may have misunderstood your article. If so, please forgive, if not, I think this article is also wrong in the following respect:

    Apple’s iAd is not introducing any new kind of advertising. It is improving the situation where developers of iPhone apps have to compete by offering their apps for free, and then covering their costs by incorporating advertising that they have to find and include themselves.

    If so, I have to agree with Steve that most of these ads are pretty cheesy, although those I have noticed do seem to be smartly location-aware and content-aware.

    You seem to have understood this too, but just to be clear, what we are talking about with iAd is a 2 or 3 line message at the bottom of the screen that shows when you play a game or other app that comes from the “FREE” version. We are not talking about ads that take over your entire screen or iPhone unless you want them to.

    The end of the entire civilised world as we know it may not be as imminent as you claim. Indeed, Apple may even be helping prevent that end.

  17. This never occurred over even more far reaching long standing methods of selling targeted lists for direct advertising