Apple: The Advertising Savior and Slayer
On Monday, Steve Jobs and Apple officially announced the iPhone 4 and gave the release date for iOS4 (their mobile operating system) that will include iAd (their new and fairly revolutionary take on advertising). Since I work in radio now (specifically ad sales) I've been reading a lot of industry opinions on iAd and what it and Apple's broader efforts mean for the advertiser and those in advertising.
One of the things that slipped out after the keynote is the release of Safari 5. Apple's browser is available for Windows and Mac (I've upgraded both and LOVE it so far). It's faster than ever before on both platforms, and includes support for extensions (a first for the Apple browser).??
The biggest feature, eventually if not right away, is Safari Reader. If you've ever used Instapaper, you'll find yourself comfortable with the idea of Reader. Anytime you're looking at an article on the web, your search bar will display a "reader" icon. Click it, and Safari will reformat the article without any sidebar ads, or odd fonts, distraction-free, clean and ready for printing or leisurely reading. It's great for the user, but what about the publisher?
Jim Lynch has a great take on the new "feature". He's writing from a web publisher's standpoint, so obviously he's a bit biased, but overall makes an impassioned argument against this new method of content delivery.
Here's Ken Fisher with Ars Technica and his take on the situation. Again, a good article for anyone mildly interested in this thing.
So, as an Apple geek (who upgraded his iPhone 3G to iOS4 last night and is eagerly scraping his pennies together for iPhone 4) and an ad man, what's my take?
It's the nature of the beast.
We block or remove ads. It's what we do as a society. VCR, DVD, DVR, Pop-Up Blockers, Spam Filters, etc. etc. Every time advertising agencies come up with a new way to deliver us ads, we find a way to get rid of them. The good news for the advertiser? There are still ads. TV is still a lucrative place to advertise. Radio is still doing great business for local advertisers when the message is good and the format is right (may I tell you more about our all-sports station and its ability to maintain the attention of listeners?). Hulu has re-conditioned viewers to accept (short) ads back into their video viewing. As more and more of our content comes not from discs or even digital media that we "own" but from streaming servers far away, the content delivery service (whether that be Apple, Hulu, Amazon, Netflix) is going to be able to control our ad-viewing in a greater way than ever before.
In the long run, this is a good thing for advertisers and people who work in advertising (like me). It'll make us work harder and break old habits that won't work in this new medium. We'll have to repackage our products and re-focus our efforts at attracting and maintaining listeners/viewers/readers.
Apple's not breaking the ad model...well, they are, but that's a good thing. The old one sucked anyway.
But that's just one guy's opinion!