Apple's iAd Cuts Prices but Sees Defections

There's a great deal of analysis and even schadenfreude going on over the news that Apple's iAd unit (formerly Quattro Wireless) "has cut rates by as much as 70 percent as some marquee clients are using rival services . . . signaling the company is struggling to parlay its technology leadership into success in the ad industry." 

According to Bloomberg: 

Apple has cut the minimum ad purchase from $1 million to $500,000, and it’s offering agencies deals for as low as $300,000 if they bring together multiple campaigns, the two people [familiar with the matter] said. 

What people fail to realize is that iAd is effectively a very high profile "proof of concept" for mobile display advertising. It lent enormous credibility to mobile advertising with brands and got them to bet six and seven figures on mobile, which they had not before. 

It also compelled rivals to develop richer ad formats. All of these things are good for mobile advertising in general.

I don't believe that Apple ever saw mobile advertising as a significant revenue stream for the company, however. It was more about supporting developers and enabling them to make money -- having control over a revenue stream for the iOS ecosystem. But that concern has substantially subsided. Apple's developers have access to multiple ad networks.

In the end it really doesn't matter whether Apple gets $300K or $500K up front. It just matters that advertisers are spending that money somewhere in mobile. 

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