Wow. Apple is asking potential advertisers looking to join the iAd program for the iPhone and iPad to pony up $1 million? $10 million? This week, the first news of details of the iAd program are out and it isn’t looking like this is going to be advertising for the masses by any means. Correction — the masses will receive the ads, but they won’t be on the delivering end. It really shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the history of Apple, but it’s looking as if they want not just the revenue from selling advertising for the extremely popular gadgets, but also creative control over what ads appear and how they look. Not only that — you’re going to have to come up with a nice pile of cash to gain entrance to the stable of advertisers being allowed to exhibit their wares on the i-gadgets.
Of course, advertising on the mobile platform is not necessarily a cheap date at this point in the development of the platform. Running campaigns of a similar scope to those proposed for the iAd program cost in the neighborhood of $100,000 to $200,000 already — a pretty pricey neighborhood for most advertisers. But that’s still a whole lot less expensive than the $1 million figure that’s being cited (or the $10 million that is also being passed around as a potential cost). One could take the $1 million earmarked for an Apple-directed ad campaign and use it to hit a variety of online outlets and different smartphone ad formats, potentially reaching a much larger proportion of the market than the iPhone and iPad currently command. So why would an advertiser choose Apple? Especially if, as is rumored, Apple is going to demand creative control over the ad itself?
Actually, I do appreciate the fact that Apple wants to ensure that the admittedly high level of quality that they build into their products is also reflected in the content carried by those products. But as they expand out from their first ventures in entertainment for the masses, it appears as if Apple isn’t responding to what the masses want, but more along the lines of what it thinks is good for the masses. Sound like something from a commercial? Think 1984 and the introduction of the Macintosh. On the other hand, maybe Apple is leading the way and setting the bar for other mobile advertisers, all of which will result in a better experience for users everywhere? As the deal plays out, we’ll know more. We’ll see which products are willing to play the game by Apple’s rules in the hopes of a huge payoff. Will they be the items that would appeal to the type of person who buys an iPad anyway? Will increased sales justify the cost? Will the foray by Apple into advertising tip the scales and herald a new era of advertising on the mobile platform that finally provides the take-off point that makes it appealing enough? Questions, questions, questions. Answers will follow.