NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The first of Apple's iAds are expected to start popping up on iPhones later this week, but don't expect all the marketers that have committed to the platform to be there. A check-in with declared iAd advertisers found that many are still in the early stages of flushing out concepts and creative. Some are weeks -- perhaps months -- away from having an iAd in the system.
"Most advertisers won't be there on July 1; there just isn't enough time," said one agency exec with several iAds in the works.
Part of the issue is with Apple itself: The company is handling all the technical production of iAds, and telling agencies it will take six to eight weeks to produce an ad after the creative is produced.
The July 1 rollout announced by Apple doesn't necessarily coincide with the objectives of the marketers themselves, and many are staggering launches on the platform through the fall. Apple is telling marketers that the device considered most promising for advertisers -- the iPad -- won't be on the iAd platform until November.
Those signing up are paying a stiff price tag for admission. Most iAd-vertisers are paying $1 million just to be on the platform, and some are paying upwards of $10 million for certain degrees of exclusivity in a category, such as automotive. Agency execs close to the deals say some marketers are paying to keep their competitors off the iAd platform as "presenting" and "charter" sponsors. Nissan, for example, is the only automaker on the iAd format; Citi, the only bank.
Disney, whose biggest shareholder is Apple CEO Steve Jobs, bought iAd space for the movie studio, but it's said that's not an exclusive deal. Other studios have been offered the opportunity but haven't done so because of the long lead time and the fact that the films themselves have their own marketing budgets, and they are reluctant to commit such a large chunk to one format.
The pricing is the highest on the mobile world: $10 per thousand impressions for the banners themselves and a $2 cost-per-click for people that click and enter the iAd experience.
Part of the incentive is to be able to work directly with Apple, which has assigned its own creative and technical professionals to the job, as well as the staff of Quattro Wireless, its newly-acquired mobile and networks and production shop. "Any brand that does it is instantly aligned with Apple," said Darrell Whitelaw, creative director of mobile shop MIR, which is designing Citi's iAd. "It's instant credibility, instant cool. You're on the new iPhone 4; it really is the one way you can align yourself with that little Apple logo."
The good news for mobile advertising is that Apple is expanding the pie. The bulk of the $60 million now committed to iAds isn't coming from existing mobile budgets but from other budgets such as digital, TV and even PR, according to multiple execs across different brands.
Those who have experimented with prototypes, however, say the experience is truly good. Because the ads load when a phone or device is synched, there is no download time when a user clicks on an ad. The targeting is also particularly rich, including location and iTunes preferences. Apple recently changed its terms of service to allow users to opt out of ad targeting.
"I think as a media format it has the potential to surpass anything that has come before," said Carrie Frolich, digital director at WPP unit MEC Global, which bought iAd inventory for Citi, AT&T, Chanel and Campbell Soup. "It delivers all the emotive qualities of television or video advertising with the interactivity of a website, plus the functionality of location and all the bells and whistles of Apple devices like the accelerometer."
What are the i-advertisers up to? Here's a look at some of those willing to share.
UnileverUnilever is using the iAd platform -- which reaches high-income early-adopters -- to help it break out of its women-dominated product line. Its iAd will be part of a digital campaign that launched June 15 for Dove Men+Care, featuring short biographical films about the personal stories behind athletes, starting with St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols and New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte. Other athletes will be part of the campaign eventually.
Unlike most jock endorsements, Dove Men+Care isn't showing the athletes in uniform or focusing heavily on their on-field endorsements, but instead on their biographical stories, or what marketing director Rob Candelino terms their "journey to comfort." Users will be able to click through stats and other biographical information about the athletes.
The digital campaign has focused on a psychological aspect, featuring athletes, such as New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees, who have reached a station in life in which they're comfortable with who they are -- and presumably confident enough in their masculinity to use a body-wash brand with a female heritage.
Campbell SoupCampbell was one of the first advertisers to put messages on New York trolleys in 1904, and created its famous jingle on the radio in the '30s. Director-Brand Communications John Faulkner said it sees the iAd as a new medium in the same vein. Campbell is still white-boarding concepts and probably won't have an ad live until September -- the start, as he says, of "soup season." Apple has said the iAds would start appearing on the iPad, as well as iPhones and iPod Touch devices, in November.
Campbell's iAd will have at least one game: right now it's testing an idea to allow users to physically "shake" the salt out of different soups and see the results. It will also link to Campbell's mobile website with recipe ideas using all of its brands. The iAd, created by BBDO, will contain content from the children's book "Who Grew My Soup" to play up the brand's ingredients.
DirecTVDirecTV is expected to unveil an iAd that will promote offerings like its NFL Sunday Ticket, one of its biggest fall promotions, as well as other features that illustrate how the satellite provider is superior to its cable competitors.
Jon Gieselman, DirecTV's senior VP-advertising and public relations, said the company has been dabbling in mobile advertising for the past 18 months with varying degrees of success, but is optimistic about the launch of the iAd.
"In our judgment, this has the potential to be mobile advertising done right. We wanted to be on the forefront of the development," he said. "What was interesting about it was an opportunity to educate people about DirecTV in a media-rich environment."
SearsFor Sears Holding Co., the design process hasn't started yet. We can expect this retailer's ads in fall. The marketer is interested in iAd because of mobile's growing role in shopping and purchase research. Sears is already active in mobile and supports mobile commerce sites and apps for both Sears and Kmart stores. "Consumers actively research products even before they get to the store, and while they are in the stores," said Phuc Truong, U.S. managing director of Sears' mobile agency Mobext. "The mobile phone is an indispensible productivity tool for that."
While iTunes-based targeting and Apple-size publicity have proven attractive to advertisers, little completely new functionality has yet been demonstrated on iAd, though iAds can change message by location in a way that isn't possible with mobile ad-network competitors like Google's AdMob, according to Mr. Truong. With the necessary consumer opt-ins, iAds will be able to change messaging based on location, even as granular as specific stores, he said.
State FarmState Farm is one of two announced iAd advertisers from the insurance industry, along with Liberty Mutual. "We've run mobile advertising before, but not to this degree," said Tim Van Hoof, State Farm director-marketing communications, who is planning the company's iAd strategy. State Farm has partnered with mobile publishers such as Major League Baseball and ESPN in the past but, he said, "this represents the next step for us, quite frankly."
The audience is younger and relatively diverse, and large enough to target by category or demographic data -- filters Apple can build from users' iTunes profiles or Quattro's targeting technology.
Apple's involvement in creative development was another of many selling points for State Farm. "This is exciting because Apple is going to know the capabilities of their platform more than anyone else," Mr. Van Hoof said. "This group creates amazing devices and technology; learning from that group both creatively and from a tech standpoint is an opportunity." Mr. Van Hoof also sees iAds as a way to invest in Apple's developer talent pool -- developers who run iAds in their apps get 60% of ad revenue. The publicity surrounding being a first-mover with iAd is also attractive, he said.
That's not to say this campaign will be exempt from meeting the usual success-metric thresholds -- as with any new partner, those measures will help determine if State Farm continues using iAd in the future. We can expect State Farm iAds later this summer. "We've put our toe into the water," he said. "IAd was a way to jump in in a bigger way."
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Contributing: Jack Neff and Andrew Hampp