Advertising in iPhone apps - Three tactics revised (part 1)

Most of the newspapers, magazines, websites, TV programs and radio have something in common. They are a medium for advertising since you can remember. With the time, media outlets and advertisers have developed in most of the cases formats that allow marketeers to use space for commercial purposes. This is how we think of newspapers and blogs nowadays. Don't get me started with, let's say, search engines. 

With Apple's revolutionary phone plus an ipod running the same system, the iPhone platform was yet to be exploited. In the early days without App Store, the only way to include ads in the iDevices was through web applications. As soon as Apple released their first SDK and allowed third party software installation, they also kick started the advertising age for the iPhone. 

Omar Hamoui, founder of one of the iPhone ad networks, AdMob, puts it this way: "The original assumption behind the iPhone was you can browse the entire Web on your iPhone. What a logical person would think, therefore, was that the iPhone was going to have the same advertising you see on the Web. So why would a company design special ads for the iPhone? There is no need."

Who remembers those days. If Barclayscard's waterslide game made it to #1 in the iPhone app charts, it wasn't certainly the first incursion of a company bringing content to the iPhone platform. iBeer was pretty much the first well thought sponsored app. These are apps commissioned and rarely developed in-house. A new source of clients for app developers. Greystripe have seen an average 10% click-through rate. Brook Lenox has used many mobile ad networks and has a great post about it.

But what is the appeal of sponsored apps for the end user? Let me start with one of the three advertising categories that I will cover in the next days:

1. Apps with conventional third party ads - You've got it in most of the top 50 free  apps in the App Store. I will start with this one because I feel if the most straight forward method. If it works on TV why not on the iPhone?

This is, a game or app that includes a promotional game. There are ad networks that allow developers and publishers to include these easily and get some ROI. In many occasions these sort of ads are included in Lite versions.  From my experience these ads usually advertise other apps, and if you allow me, apps that are perfectly unknown and have dubious quality. 

In most of the cases, the ads are not so intrusive and are placed on top or bottom of a menu. Sometimes are hardly noticeable and they try to blend with the rest of the app. 

The most flagrant case that I have managed to find is this:


Why would you include a Thinkberry Ad inside the game itself? This is the gameplay, not a menu! Besides that, who would allow an app with a bum to be included in their app? I'm sorry, but for me this makes it loose all credibility and I my ethics forced to delete the app before finishing the game. I'm sure many people feel this way, so this represents a big waste of time and resources. I don't see what revenue figures justify something like this. 

What do you think about third party ads in your iPhone apps? Do you think is worth it? Have you clicked on those ads?

Please let me know in the comments.