I like ads. Always have done. Good ones that is. As a teenager my walls were decorated with framed mini-proofs of poster campaigns that my dad worked on. There are some very effective TV and cinema campaigns that I enjoy watching, where each ad is part of a serial and I look forward to the next execution.
Are there any web ads I’d place in the same category? Web ads I’d mention to a friend ‘hey have you seen the latest Acme Widgets banner?’ Um, nope. Mostly they annoy the hell out of me, they make noises or enlarge, unbidden when I mouse over them, (hey. Wired, I’m looking at you) and worst of all are designed to hijack my attention and take me away from the content I want to read.
But the iAds that are demoed in this Stevenote (skip to 45 mins in unless you want to learn about the new features in iPhone OS 4.0), now they looked like the kind of advertising I wouldn’t mind on my phone.
Essentially they’re small ads when when clicked open in a layer over the app you were in. Then what you have could be described as a mini-app within the app, or a micro-site (depends on what paradigm you’re familiar with). Except unlike a standard micro-site there appears to be the ability to interact with the iPhone on a relatively meaningful level – like setting the wallpaper on your iPhone. I can only guess at the other possibilities.
The demo ads that Apple created for this presentation (for Pixar, Nike and Target) really showed the potential of the platform. In fact I’d say there’s a shortcut button missing alongside the little ‘x’ to close the ad – a ‘save & share’ that puts the ad into a Favorite iAds app on the iPhone, or sends a link to a friend.
It’s not all roses however as this Marketing Vox piece takes great pains to point out though some of the criticisms levelled there are somewhat churlish: ‘iAds will be hard to build’. Yeah? Hard like a TV ad? Hard like a micro-site for the desktop web? Yes it’s harder than a crappy text ad that you could create in seconds with Google Adwords or Yahoo Search Ads. Good, because I don’t like those ads, you want other reasons why they’re lowest-common-denominator bad? Check out the demographics of who’s clicking on those ads. If iAd raises the bar on ad quality, I’ll be happy, because it’s pretty low right now.