Ads as Apps: iPhone Apps from Gap, Target Are Flawed but Show the Way

MocoNews reported on a preview of apps for the iPhone created by AKQA. So I downloaded the apps to investigate whether they were interesting and effective or merely novelties.

Gap:

Gap

What's there:

  • A bunch of videos of celebrities doing Xmas carols, which can be shared via email
  • A "game" called mix not match, where users can drag/swap the the various items of clothing on a female or male model
  • Ability to save items on models to a "gift list"
  • Store finder using "current location" or city/zip manually input

What's missing:

  • Broader product search (even if it only opened the Safari browser and took users to the Gap site)
  • E-commerce capability
  • Promotions of any kind to lure people into stores to buy

Target:

 Target

What's there:

  • Store finder using current location
  • Game-like gift finder by gender and age category. Using the snow globe metaphor, users shake the app and get a new gift suggestion
  • Once a desired gift is located users can "favorite," buy online or find the item at a local store
  • Ability to go to Target's mobile or conventional websites

What's missing:

  • Ability to search for items
  • This isn't "missing" but the shaking action got very old very quickly 
  • Circular ads/discounts/deals

Of the two apps, Target was the more effective and complete, offering a tie-in with the mobile Target site or the Internet site. It also enabled users to buy the item from Target.com or find it in a local store. The Gap experience failed to offer a link to its mobile site or the ability to buy any of the featured items. Both apps lacked a product search capability. 

Both of these apps are flawed in different ways but point the way toward a host of branded and/or retailer apps -- Ads as Apps -- that represent a very powerful marketing and loyalty opportunity for their brands and products.