The Battle for Mindshare

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Advertising just got a whole lot more invasive.

The iAd

Hot on the heels of the iPad release comes what many are calling the iAd. It would seem that the Web 2.0 is going to be using a rather dated technique of advertising but with a new spin. Anyone remember TV? Yes, that quaint little (or really big) box that delivers all kinds of wonderful programming directly to the comfort of your living room that forces you into paying for that privilege by subjecting you to annoying commercials about products that you have absolutely no interest in? The web was supposed to be about not being force-fed useless information by giving us the ability to watch what we want, when we want, sans advertising.

New Apple patents

Yeah, that is so last year… The iAd might be all about delivering location and interest-specific ads: your device would know where you are, and by the same token what you’re doing, and would deliver extremely targeted advertising based on this data. This line of speculation is fueled by Apple’s recent purchase of mobile ad developer, Quattro. Alternatively, iAd could be all about some scary-looking patents Apple filed last year, for technology that forces viewers to watch ads in order to access content (sounds a lot like TV to me). Apparently the technology can tell if a user is paying attention to an ad, and will freeze if you put down your device, and will only resume once you’re engaging again, which IMHO is a lot more in-your-face than TV ever was / is / will be. Imagine the TV equivalent of getting up for your trip to the bathroom or the fridge during a commercial break only to find it is patiently waiting for your return.

Some good, some not so good…

The pros? Well, if you are willing to sit through ads that have been based on your life on the web you could get your content for cheap or maybe even for free. And privacy? You didn’t really believe that anything you do on the web is private anyway, did you? If so, then you are the last one in on the joke we collectively call “privacy on the web”. But, the advertisers do get to deliver to a captive audience that is highly targeted, localized and may quite literally be captive. The cons are pretty obvious – more insidious advertising than ever before: you could be strolling past Virgin Records downtown and get hit with an ad for the latest CD from one of the bands that you have in your iTunes collection. Yup – they’ll know all about that too make no mistake.

Will the metrics-to-end-all-metrics promised to advertisers be all that it is hyped up to be? Are consumers ready to embrace such an invasive form of advertising? Are you surprised to find that Apple wants more from you than just the money they are getting from consumer frenzy every time they release a new iThingy? Not me – but that is just my opinion and yours may vary. I’d like very much to hear it.