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One of Steve Jobs' tentpoles appears to be a bit shaky right now. We'll admit, we were a bit unsure when we first heard of iAds too. Would Apple be as controlling over the content and as capricious in their ad acceptance and rejection as they had been at the App Store? This would be a test.
And if the rollout is any indication, advertisers and other executives aren't very impressed with the product. Via 9 to 5 Mac, we see that Yahoo's CEO, Carol Bartz, thinks Steve's tentpole is too flimsy and "will fall apart." Like us, she looked at Apple's penchant for control of content and decided advertisers simply aren't going to bite. Sex sells, as everyone knows, so if you want people to buy your car, your HDTVs, your Viagra, having a scantily clad bikini model somewhere in the ad, no matter how irrelevant, is a sure way to get clicks. But you will recall Apple's rather high-handed purge of various bikini and wobble apps in the App Store. Put these two together, this is not a recipe for success.
As we noted earlier, the iAd creation is in HTML5, which is still relatively new, and Apple has yet to deliver any kind of helpful or comprehensive SDK for iAds. Also, ad packages click rate and Apple's cut makes iAds often not worth it. Most ominous of all, Apple has been actively engaged in the creation and content process, reputedly slowing down ad turn around time. Those of you with experience in advertising or marketing will recognize that increasing the number of heads involved in any creative project necessarily reduces the pace.
During Jobs' keynote, he announced 17 partners for iAds who were going to be there at the launch. By July, only two of these, Unilever and Nissan, had actual iAds up and running, while Disney and JCPenney finally managed to put something up last month. The slow rollout definitely supports the criticisms others have launched.
Granted, Yahoo's Bartz has a dog in this fight, so she's not necessarily a neutral observer. Yahoo is looking to expand into the growing mobile advertising business. While it's not necessarily the best business practice to join the market by bashing the other guy's wares, it happens every day. Will iAds fall apart? Only time will tell.