What does Apple hope to accomplish with its new mobile ad options?
Apple often claims that its decisions are guided by a desire to offer consumers the best experience possible. That's why the company didn't include Flash in the original iPhone, eventually introduced the App Store to improve software distribution, and has insisted on maintaining as much control as possible over how people interact with their smartphones.
Strange, then, that the company has thrown those principles aside to bolster its advertising platform. It announced on Tuesday that developers will be able to add minute-long pre-roll videos and full-screen interstitial ads to their applications. Developers and advertisers might appreciate the new options, but it seems unlikely that consumers will swoon with adoration.
Few things are as frustrating -- nor, in a world where people refuse to pay for anything with their own cash, as necessary -- as mobile advertisements. Making them even more annoying, by letting them fill a phone's entire screen or run for a full minute before allowing people to do whatever it is they were trying to do, goes against everything Apple has claimed to care about.
It seems even stranger when you consider the fact that Apple's advertising platform is often seen as a dud. The company required a $1 million commitment from advertisers when the platform was first introduced; then it lowered the minimum to $100,000 in 2012 to make it more attractive to advertisers; and when that failed, it lowered the minimum to $50 in 2013.
Offering different ad formats might make the advertising platform more attractive to marketers and developers, but it's hardly going to make Apple more popular among consumers -- which means that the company is going to irritate the people who purchase its products to help an ad platform that's been nothing but a disappointment since its debut. Does that seem Apple-like?
Apple's empire has been built on the backs of people who gladly spend hundreds of dollars every year to get its latest-and-greatest products. It wasn't built on advertising dollars, like Google's, or by expanding into every niche imaginable, like Amazon's. It should remember that.
[illustration by Hallie Bateman]