The announcement the other day about “iAd,” the advertising platform for the iPhone and iPad was not a surprise exactly, and it will be interesting to see how the program develops.The mobile advertising field is intriguing in and of itself, with a lot of possibilities but, so far, a seeming reluctance to embrace the medium.
Despite the potential for the Apple program to give mobile advertising a jump start, the name of the program leaves much to be desired. I realize that Apple has a brand to consider (which seemingly will one day include every word starting with “i” and perhaps even “I” itself LOL), but I’d like to see a little more of the vaunted Apple creativity at work. iAd? Come on. For one thing, it’s a very, very short word that is open to being interpreted as an acronym. In fact, it already is a well-known acronym referring to a police force’s Internal Affairs Department (IAD), as well as being the airport code for Dulles airport in Washington DC. Other popular uses include as the acronym for the Iraqi Army Division and — in perhaps the most appropriate possible confusion option — for Internet Addiction Disorder (which can be a very serious problem).
So, if you’re checking your IAD status, are your colleagues going to think you are checking your mobile advertising stats OR will they wonder if you’ve turned into James Bond, about to jump in your Lear jet for a flight to IAD, after which you will be appearing in a panel at the White House on IAD investigations into the spread of IAD throughout the IAD in Baghdad. Yeah, I know. Not a very sophisticated joke, but I think I’ve made my point.
The other problem with the name is that it doesn’t apply to an item that has mass appeal, unlike other “i” product and programs. “iPhone,” “iTunes,” “iPad,” — they all imply something that “I” can use, and implies that the “I” in question is every man and woman and child on the planet. In reality, the iAd program is something that few people overall will be directly using. After all, not everyone wants to advertise something (thank God). The vast majority of people will never even know what iAd is or how to use it, because they will have no need for it. They will see the results of it on their iPhone and iPad, but they won’t be able to go into iAd and make changes to the wording of an ad appearing on their phone.
If for that reason alone, I think that Apple shouldn’t have used some of their precious “i” brand real estate on an advertising platform. They may wish to brand every product and feature and program they have with an “i,” but the reality should be a restriction to instances where the choice makes sense with the particular pairing. I don’t know what the alternate names for “iAd” might have been, but that’s why advertising types get paid millions of dollars, right? To figure stuff like that out. What I do know is that after the iPad name jokes and innuendos, I thought surely Apple would be more thoughtful in naming its next product. Apparently not. They have, however, been very thoughtful in how they have set the program up and how advertising can integrate with the whole “apps” phenomenon. I’ll watch that space with great interest, all the time trying not to think “iAd.”