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Apple introduces iAds to the iPad

When Apple launched iAds, Steve Jobs said that the foray into advertising was about more than just exploiting an obvious opportunity. “We want to
change the quality of the advertising
,” he said.

But while Apple’s successes are generally pretty clear-cut, the verdict is still out on iAd. Some of the advertisers buying in early didn’t like Apple’s micromanagement of creative, there were delays and high minimums, and the return is still subject to debate.

More recently, questions were raised over Apple’s ability to move iAd inventory, as some developers have reported low fill rates.

Previously, the iAd program was limited to the iPhone, but that’s no longer the case. As reported by CNET News.com, iAds are now running on the iPad:

The first company to put out an iAd is Unilever, maker of Dove Men+Care. The company is working with the National Collegiate Athletic Association to give users an up-close view of three of its stars.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson, John Thompson III, and Bobby Hurley will be highlighted in a new series of video ads called “Journey to Comfort.”

iPad iAds could answer the questions still lingering over the offering’s viability. Not only is the iPad screen larger in size than the iPhone screen,
it’s arguably a much more versatile device. That means that, in theory,
it could be a far more potent vehicle for Apple’s new ad format.

In reality, however, all of the iPad attributes that make it such an appealing device for advertisers may not mean that much. The reason: it’s not about the device, it’s about how people use it.

Piper Jaffray’s survey of newly-minted iPad 2 owners found that 38% of them planned to use their iPad to surf the web, the most popular activity. Only 17% plan to use apps and play games.

Granted, that number increased from 9% when Piper Jaffray polled new owners of the device when it was first released. If these numbers are to be believed, it means that a whole lot of the ad inventory the iPad drives the creation of will be on the ‘regular’ internet, outside of Apple’s control. And outside of iAd.

This, of course, doesn’t mean that the iPad won’t be a meaningful contributor to the adoption of iAds. It likely will be.

But no matter how much love advertisers have for iPadvertising, it seems clear that many of the opportunities emerging for publishers, developers and entrepreneurs because of the iPad are not going to remain neatly within the confines of Apple’s walled garden.

Certainly, that’s good news for those looking to exploit these opportunities. But it’s also important for advertisers, who shouldn’t look at iPad as the be-all and end-all of a smart iPadvertising strategy.

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