Apple iAd partners say they're happy with early results
Apple's iAd mobile advertising platform is getting favorable reviews from the companies whose advertisements were the first to run on the new system, including Dove soap-maker Unilever and Nissan. App makers like Dictionary.com and CBS Mobile have said iAd is allowing them to charge more for ad space in their applications.
Though neither Apple nor the advertisers would share revenue or traffic numbers, they noted that their pilot iAds tended to pull in users and keep them interested for significantly longer than other kinds of digital ads.
Nissan, which created a multilayer interactive ad for its electric LEAF car, said customers spent an average of 90 seconds with the ad -- 10 times longer than interaction times for comparable online ads. Moreover, people chose to "tap" on the Leaf iAd five times more frequently than they clicked on regular online display ads for the Leaf.
Like the other iAds from major players like Nike and Dove's campaign, the LEAF ad resembles something closer to an informational game, allowing users to manipulate the car with their fingers, change its paint job and chart its fuel efficiency in comparison with other cars.
"We feel pretty strongly that this is the way to capitalize on where the mobile Web is heading," said Chad Jacoby, a senior manager of Nissan's media operations. "What iAd promises is the most progressive thing I've seen to date" in digital advertising.
Dictionary.com said on Wednesday that the amount it could charge for its ad space had increased 177% since it enabled iAds in its iPhone app, and CBS Mobile Senior Vice President Rob Gelick said the company's six apps -- including apps for CBS Sports, CNET, and GameSpot, were seeing up to $25 CPMs (the cost advertisers pay for an add to appear a thousand times.)
Apple has said it secured $60 million in advertising commitments for 2010 -- or about half the nascent U.S. mobile display advertising market, according to market research from J.P. Morgan.
Rob Master, the North American media director for Unilever, which put out one of the first iAds for its Dove shower products -- said his company would soon launch a second iAd for its Klondike dessert bar. The company's Dove ad featured videos and trivia games about baseball players Albert Pujols and Andy Pettitte.
The Dove ad resulted in a "double-digit" percentage of users seeking further information about the product, with 20% of viewers returning to check the ad out again. (Repeat viewers are marketers' favorite kind -- it indicates a clear interest in their brand.) That's a good start, Master said.
Moreover, he added, producing the first ad brought with it a useful "learning curve," both for its producers and for Unilever at large.
"The ad served to help rally the organization at large" to see the value of iAds. "And now that we've been through one, the amount of time and team dedicated [to producing an ad] drops dramatically."
Other Apple iAds are forthcoming from partners like Campbell Soup, DirectTV, General Electric and Sears.
-- David Sarno
Image from Nissan Leaf promotional video