So proclaimed Apple CEO Steve Jobs last week. It’s obviously a sideswipe at his old chums Google, but also heralds the launch of ‘iAd’ – his next ‘revolution in waiting’. What is iAd? In essence, it’s a brand new mobile advertising system – the point of difference being that, if someone clicks on an ad within a free iPhone app, they’ll no longer get transported off somewhere else. Instead, the ads simply stay within the app. Financially speaking, developers get to keep 60% of the ad revenues and Apple gets the other 40.
The real opportunity for us advertising folk is in the richness of the potential content. Jobs talks of highly interactive video content – all within the app itself. In fact, his ultimate objective is not just to deliver interaction, but emotion too. Bring it on I say! Also, in terms of reach, we can’t ignore the market domination of the iPhone at the moment. There are millions upon millions and, if the iPad catches on, there’ll be even more opportunities.
Done right, the possibilities are endless. Mobile advertising will finally come of age and realise its potential. However, just like any other medium, a campaign’s success will depend on whether it genuinely engages with the recipient. I can already see the future – media-rich but dull-as-ditch-water ads by financial titans… living forever in my iPhone. In the wrong hands, interactivity and video can simply serve to prolong one’s agony and become an excuse for being uncreative! Mr Jobs has thrown down the gauntlet, let’s use it wisely.
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Back in the day we marvelled at ‘search’. It was like questioning the all-seeing internet oracle and being granted a whole world of knowledge. How we laughed when it threw up weird fuzzy-logic responses. Remember the rumour that the world would end if you typed ‘google’ into Google!? Not any more. Now you want the one result you’re looking for, and you want it now! Enter Bing – the new search, or should I say ‘decision’, engine from Microsoft. Its aim? To shift work from consumers to search engines – actually answering more queries on the search engine page itself, without having to click through to the result. You enter ‘weather’, it’ll give you an instant forecast based on your IP address/location. You enter ‘flights’, it’ll tell you whether the fares are likely to go up by tomorrow morning. Is it really so new though? Google already offers much of this functionality. Also, I think it might get on my nerves after a while. Like some over keen minion that jumps to conclusions before I’ve even finished a sentence. If the inference is wrong, I’ll have to start all over again anyway. Ho hum. They are throwing a multi-million dollar campaign at it though. Will it be enough to make people switch from Google though? We’ll have to wait and see.
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Google’s Q4 revenues are up 18% but Microsoft’s online operating losses have doubled. What’s going on? According to Google, their modest success is all down to folk who are still ploughing modest advertising spend into search. Then there’s the fact that they’ve super-turbo-charged the engine itself with over 300 enhancements. However, only last week it was reported that search marketing budgets in the States have fallen 8% year-on-year in Q4 2008 (Revolution). So, the big question – is Google’s crunch trouncing success sustainable? And, if so, for how long? Of course, the real question is how useful either of the businesses’ quarterly reports/forecasts are in predicting their future. Given the new rules of the market, can anyone really predict who the winners or losers will be?
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