Is Apples iAd a Success or a Flop?

We get competing views of Apple's iAds from the Wall Street Journal and blog Business Insider. First the WSJ, which discusses the slow rollout and bottlenecks, as well as some developer disappointments:

Since launching its iAd mobile advertising service on July 1, Apple has been slow to roll it out. Of the 17 launch partners Apple named for iAd, only Unilever PLC and Nissan Co. had iAd campaigns for much of July. Of the remaining 17, Citigroup Inc., Walt Disney Co. and J.C. Penney Co.—which tied its campaign to the back-to-school-season—have since launched iAd campaigns and other companies are planning iAd efforts.

Part of the reason some marketers are experiencing delays in getting their iAds to market is that Apple has kept tight control on the creative aspects of ad-making, something advertisers aren't used to, according to several ad executives involved with creating iAds.

But then an almost totally opposite report (based on a single case) from Business Insider:

[T]he ads themselves look really good, publishers and advertisers seem happy so far, and users are actually playing with the ads . . .

Dictionary.com president Shravan Goli [reported] . . . 

--iAd eCPMs, or effective cost per 1,000 impressions, are more than $10.
--iAd eCPMs are 2X to 3X the eCPMs he's seen from some other mobile ad networks.
--iPhone eCPMs in general (iAd + others) are 5X to 6X those of other mobile platforms.
--iAd fill rates are around 70%-80% now that Apple has started letting app-makers advertise for cheap in other apps.

USAToday has a similar article based on early developer feedback. There are other critical articles about Apple's creative control and low fill rates. However I would argue that iAds have succeeded whether or not Apple or the initial developers specifically make money off them. Here's why:

  • They've brought credibility to mobile advertising that it previously lacked
  • They've accelerated mobile ad investments among brands
  • They've raised the creative bar and put pressure on others to offer more engaging mobile ads

In short, iAd has helped jumpstart mobile advertising across the board and will result in better more creatively engaging ads for all. In that regard it's a success despite all the criticism of Apple and its slow roll out.