iPad Offers Advertisers a New Utopia of "Safe" Content

Last Updated Apr 5, 2010 1:13 PM EDT

If Apple's (AAPL) iPad is a device that encourages the passive consumption of content, and makes the creation of elaborate new content difficult, then advertisers will love it. That's one possibility of the new advertising world presented by the tablet device.

Advertisers have -- let's face it -- generally disliked the web. It gives consumers a voice. It's difficult to control your brand image amid the cacophony of other users. And it allows users to create their own, alternative content that's sometimes more compelling than that backed by traditional advertisers. (Here's an example: 21-year-old YouTube comic Shane Dawson has an audience of 1.3 million subscribers and 249 million total views; Fox Business News has 49 million subscribers and an average audience of 21,000 viewers.)

The iPad arguably dumbs down the web and makes it safe for advertisers. The iPad has no video or photo camera, it's word processing and business software is primitive, it doesn't use Flash video (until now the standard for advertisers), and it cannot multitask. All of these functions are crucial for any consumer who's serious about creating their own content.

What remains on the iPad are a series of entertaining diversions and easy-to-use apps and games that make watching movies or reading a magazine much more palatable than on a PC or a laptop. And that's exactly what advertisers want: The ability to not have to worry about whether their ads are innovative enough to get the attention of consumers on their own merit, because they will be scrolling by as the audience passively ingests them. Think I'm wrong? You might want to read up on Apple's patent application for an advertising "enforcement routine" on its devices which locks down the device while the user is subjected to a series of ads.

The notion that the iPad will make the web safe for advertisers has already led to some delusional thinking: Some publishers, including NPR, believe that ads on the iPad should be more expensive than those in traditional venues because the iPad presents media content so beautifully. But if the iPad increases the supply of advertising venues, and the number of different types of content in which ads can appear also increases, how could this possibly also lead to an increase in prices?

In sum, the iPad may deliver a utopia for advertisers: A safer venue for humdrum promotions with ever-falling prices.

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Image by Flickr user renatomitra, CC.