While Apple arguably can do whatever it puts its hand to, its recent move to bring programmatic to iAd doesn’t have everyone impressed.
JUICE Mobile president and CEO Neil Sweeney didn’t mince words: “They should have done this five years ago.”
And that, Sweeney said, begs two related questions. One, Is Apple going to be doing anything truly different here? And two, is Apple actually committed to its advertising business?
At the moment, Apple’s iAd API – which enables developers and mobile ad companies to create and manage their campaigns in a private exchange environment – will only support standard banner ad sizes. [Emily Del Greco, VP of sales at Adelphic – one of Apple’s iAd API approved demand side launch partners – told AdExchanger that Apple is considering adding video in early 2015, as well as potential capabilities around tag level data.]
“If there weren’t enough nails in the old ad network model, having Apple make the switch to programmatic is one more,” said Adelphic CEO Michael Collins. “The last big holdout has moved to audience buying.”
But Apple’s over-cautiousness is somewhat baffling to Sweeney, who wondered why the company’s tardy move into the programmatic space wasn’t more “progressive.”
“Apple is about launching never-been-done-before functionality and extremely well-designed handsets,” Sweeney said. “They have the watch now and they’re flirting with beacons – and then it turns out that they’re getting into programmatic RTB. Really? This is what one of the world’s leaders is doing?”
Evan Schwartz, CEO and founder of mobile app retargeting company ActionX, was a little more forgiving.
“Sure, it would have been great if Apple had focused on this a couple of years ago, but now that it has, this is a game changer,” Schwartz said. “It would have been one matter if we were talking about some random ad network or exchange launching this, but we’re talking about Apple. iAd still has some of the best premium inventory out there and some of the strongest datasets for targeting, including rich data from iTunes and from app store activity. And that, combined with programmatic, is kind of big deal.”