Marketers Still Looking for More Data, Lower Costs for IPad Ads

Metrics Coming in Show Promise, but Engagement Elusive

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- As early data on iPad apps trickle in, one thing is clear: It's going to require mountains of metrics for advertisers to pony up for the new platform's ads -- and their high prices.

But early data from Conde Nast will bolster the argument the iPad is worth a premium, as it's delivering on reader attention better than other media channels. The publisher reports users are spending more than two hours on average with its Vanity Fair and GQ apps -- that's double the average hour spent with print magazines. Interaction times are also growing with subsequent issues. Vanity Fair's interaction times jumped more than an hour from June to July; GQ's jump was much more modest at only few minutes, according to metrics firm Flurry. Time spent with iPad apps also beat digital channels: Two hours with an iPad app trumps an average of 15 minutes on websites and 75 minutes on mobile apps per month.

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"We have been waiting for any kind of data," said Brenda White, senior VP-publishing activation director at Starcom Worldwide. Still, buyers remain skeptical.

"I want to know if users are spending more time with advertising messages," said Adam Kasper, senior VP-digital innovation for Havas Digital. "People spending more time with apps than magazines is interesting, but it's not something that's going to make me want to shift budgets just yet."

These early iPad ads are largely coming from test budgets, which will disappear if the ads don't prove themselves. To date, metrics have been limited to views and clicks, said Chris Allen, VP-director of video innovations, Starcom USA, which had three clients in the ABC Player app from the get-go, and all have made at least a second-round commitment. For clients to bring iPad out of test phase, he'll need much more measurement.

"So far the results have been strong in terms of traction," Mr. Allen said. "We're meeting audience-delivery estimates, but what we are still lacking is engagement metrics. We definitely need to take it further with third-party tracking."

ABC has sold slots in its iPad app along with a commitment online. And while some reports indicate iPad-app ads cost anywhere from $50,000 to $1 million, ABC has asked for commitments below $100,000, which fits the comfort level for advertisers, according to one buyer's report.

"Premium pricing has been somewhat of a barrier [in addition to] no measurement," said Starcom's Ms. White. "It's too early to put a premium on this distribution point."

Havas' Mr. Kasper estimates $100 cost-per-thousand views on iPad, which he says is three times as much as a video ad on Hulu and 10 times as much as a highly regarded banner on The New York Times website. Although magazine ad rates vary, they run anywhere from $50 to $150, said a different buyer. Yet another says you'd pay CPMs of $100 or more for niche and luxury titles.

"Compared to what client could pay in other digital channels, iPad is expensive," Mr. Kasper said. "I do think there will be an appetite," he added. "But we're going to need some numbers and more scale before the appetite happens."

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Contributing: Nat Ives and Brian Steinberg

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