Apple's Inner Control Freak is Slowing iAds Growth, Benefiting Google

Last Updated Aug 16, 2010 4:27 PM EDT

Google (GOOG) and Apple (APPL) are competing fiercely for share in the rapidly growing market of mobile advertising. But the two companies are taking very different approaches. Apple is asserting a lot more creative control, a mistake that will allow Google to gain a big advantage in scale.

When Steve Jobs first showed off iAds back in April, he made clear to the audience that Apple was aiming to improve on the status quo. "For lack of a more elegant way to say it, we think most of this mobile advertising really sucks."

Jobs demonstrated a few iAds, highlighting their complex mix of interactive gaming and video. In typical Apple fashion, iAds premiered with panache, rolling out a roster of 17 big names firms like Nissan (NSANY), Citigroup (C) and J.C. Penny (JCP), who had signed on to produce $60 million worth of advertising. But as the Wall Street Journal reports today, it has been a slow start for these iAd campaigns.

So far only 5 of the 17 companies involved have launched on iAds. According to several executives involved with the process who spoke to the WSJ, "Part of the reason some marketers are experiencing delays in getting their iAds to market is that Apple has kept tight control on the creative aspects of ad-making, something advertisers aren't used to."

By contrast, Google's AdMob focuses on simpler ads and gives more control to its advertising partners, allowing it to scale much faster. My colleague Erik Sherman estimates that Android is already generating $1.4 billion in mobile ad revenue each year.

iAds are intended to match the sophisticated, high end hardware that Apple has made its name selling. But in the world of advertising, size means more eyeballs and better behavioral targeting. The slower Apple moves, the bigger Google's advantage in the mobile ad market will become.

Image from Flickr user wollombi
Related Links

  • Ben Popper

    Ben Popper writes at the intersection of culture and technology. His work has been published in the NY Times, Washington Post, Fast Company, Rolling Stone, The Atlantic and many others. He lives at