Apple to Lend Hand to IAd Producers

Early Adopters Get an Added Bonus: Some Fairy Dust From Company Itself

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NEW YORK ( -- Apple's not just getting into the business of selling ads. They're going to make them as well, at least in the beginning for the earliest adopters of the new iAd format.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed off what he described as an unauthorized mock-up of a Nike ad at the unveiling of the new ad format.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs showed off what he described as an unauthorized mock-up of a Nike ad at the unveiling of the new ad format. Credit: Engadget
Executives around the mobile market say Apple will actually produce ads for marketers to assure they meet hoped-for quality standards for the new ad units.

"First couple of months they [Apple] will actually be the ones coding and programming the ads," said one executive who discussed plans with Quattro Wireless, the mobile ad network Apple acquired in January. "It will be a lot of work. That will only last for so long though; otherwise it'll require a lot of staff."

It's not new for mobile ad networks to produce ads for clients, but this is the first time advertisers will be able to gain access to Apple's creative savvy. Even before Apple acquired the mobile-ad network, Quattro was known for making high-end mobile ads. Even AdMob, for example, creates ads for advertisers that spend significant money but don't have existing mobile creative.

Agencies and marketers will provide creative materials and give direction, but Apple developers with Quattro staff will program the ads in HTML5.

They're certainly capable: At the demo for the new format, CEO Steve Jobs showed off what he described as unauthorized mock-ups of ads for "brands we love," including Disney's "Toy Story 3," Nike and Target.

No one expects Apple to be in the ad production business long-term; rather, long enough to "prime the pump" with some premium advertisers and great executions to lure others into the format.

Indeed, as Mr. Jobs said during the unveiling, "We do not have plans to be a worldwide ad agency; we don't know a lot about advertising, but we're learning." He said the format would appeal to traditional agencies and that thousands of app developers could themselves get into the ad production -- or at least iAd production -- business. Apple declined to comment further.

Not the business Apple's in
But those agencies and developers are going to have help, at least initially. One agency developer said there's no other way for advertisers to create an iAd other than to get production assistance from Apple. Apple released the technical specs to include iAds in applications, but not one to actually create the ads.

"Apple certainly has the creative capabilities to build ads for clients but that's not the business that they're in," said Raven Zachary, president of iPhone development firm Small Society. "They want to set a new bar for rich-media advertising on mobile."

If the past is any indication, Apple developers will keep their involvement to a minimum. "In our experience, Apple was very much involved in getting apps built but weren't involved in building apps themselves," said Scott Kleper, co-founder and CTO of technology and marketing firm Context Optional. "They weren't controlling the process." Mr. Kleper's firm built the Open Table app for iPhone.

"My hope is they will work with and educate the agencies and then let the market grow," said JP Maheu, CEO of Publicis Modem Worldwide.

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Contributing: Edmund Lee

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