Apple’s iAd Could Bite a Chunk Out of Google’s Mobile Ad Business

apple iAd


It’s iPad week folks, so expect a deluge of excitement about tablet PCs, e-publishing, TV shows, and whatnot: Kicking us off is a juicy rumor that Apple’s soon to launch a new “iAd” mobile advertising platform, ready to smack Google where it hurts.

This news comes from MediaPost, who’ve heard from the requisite insider sources that Apple is due to announce this new system on April 7–which is timed nicely to ride the rear flank of the huge wave of press that the iPad’s launch will result in on April 3. The Apple execs in question are referring to it as Apple’s “next big thing” and note that it’s supposedly revolutionary (in the words of Jobs himself.) Sadly, that’s about all we know so far–the actual technicalities of the way iAd will work are shrouded in that famous Apple mystique and mystery.

We’ve been expecting news of this sort ever since Apple spent around $300 million buying Quattro Wireless in January. Quattro calls itself the “leading global mobile advertising company,” which is surely a matter of opinion since competing AdMob would probably fight for that title too. AdMob, remember, was bought up by Google, reportedly at the very last moment as Apple was in deep discussions to buy it first. It’s the Google threat that’s prompted Apple to get a footprint in this market of course, along with the promise that it’ll be a multi-billion dollar game in a very short while.

We can gleam a few gems from Quattro’s Web site that may indicate what iAd is going to be like. Combined with numerous Apple patents about advertising and location-aware systems, we can guess that the techies at Cupertino have built on Quattro’s “QElevation” code for “dynamic targeting” which can “optimize every impression.” Google does have some of its own ad patents in this space too–but given the seemingly tense situation between the two companies right now, we’re guessing Apple will be stepping carefully around Google’s patents, and leveraging its own IP to make this new system work.

The result is likely to be an uber-precise, user-targeting ad placement system with an associated analytics package that Apple may wind into the iPhone’s code so developers can access it through apps. It’s unlikely that we’ll see some of Apple’s more exotic ideas, like roadblock OS-level ad placements, or an ad-supported OS…yet. And this is just guesswork, but we think it’s likely to be near the mark. We’ve only got a week to find out.

[Via MediaPost]


To keep up with this news and other interesting non-iPad things this week follow me, Kit Eaton, on Twitter. That QR code on the left will take you to my Twitter feed too.

About the author

I'm covering the science/tech/generally-exciting-and-innovative beat for Fast Company. Follow me on Twitter, or Google+ and you'll hear tons of interesting stuff, I promise.