Developer: Apple's iAd solution is expensive and ineffective

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According to one developer, Apple's iAd advertising platform doesn’t work as well as AdMob.

Developer David Smith of Cross Forward Consulting writes in his blog that an iAd campaign designed to publicize his company’s Audiobooks app generated only 84 downloads of his app in one week (August 19 to August 25). The cost of the campaign was $1,251.75.

The iAd received 2,052,929 impressions and 5,007 people clicked on it but there was a very poor conversion rate resulting in 84 eventual downloads of the Audiobooks app. Having spent $1,251.75 on the campaign (the pricing for an iAd campaign is based on a Cost Per Click (CPC) of $0.25), Smith calculates that his company paid $15 for each of the 84 downloads of the 99 cent Audiobooks app. Not a good return on investment.

Ad engaged

Smith maintains that it was not the ad that was at fault. Nor was the app, which Smith claims has generated well over 1.6 million downloads since it was launched and has consistently been in the Top 10 Book apps for its lifetime.

“Given that the cost for the campaign is entirely based on clicks, we designed our banner to try and provide the audience with all the basic information they need to understand what Audiobooks is and whether they might be interested in purchasing it. This lead to a more textual treatment than a graphical one. Since we don’t pay for impressions we only wanted truly interested people clicking on the advertisement,” Smith explained.

However, Smith does suggest that iAd isn’t as engaging as Apple has portrayed it. “I think that Apple has found itself falling foul of exactly the same problems they called out when the unveiled iAd. The ads lack engagement and emotion. Clicking on the banner just shows you a simulated App Store page. There is nothing to draw the user in. I think that this avenue might have some success if they allowed developers to create more engaging advertisements that can really showcase the app and its features, including videos, HTML5 mockups and demos,” he explains.

Despite his experience, Smith praises the iAd platform’s ease of use for developers wishing to promote apps. “You just go to the launch page for the program and submit your contact information. A day later you’ll get an email from someone at Apple asking you to setup the paperwork and provide the ‘creative’ (i.e. the banner image for the campaign). You need to provide them with a portrait and landscape image formatted for a standard and retina display.”

AdMob quick blast

Smith ran the same campaign using AdMob. This time he paid $75 to do a quick blast campaign. The campaign on AdMob achieved 145,093 impressions and 1,944 click throughs—a much better conversion rate and at a cost per click of 4 cents more affordable. Smith notes that the AdMob campaign “can’t do the nice integrated download conversion tracking,” so he cannot be sure how many downloads were as a direct result of the ad.

“AdMob can’t do the nice integrated download conversion tracking that Apple can, but the impression/click data is nevertheless interesting,” he writes.

AdMob doesn’t offer the seamless purchase experience that Apple is able to offer with iAd, but concludes Smith, AdMob is both cheaper and more successful.

This story, "Developer: Apple's iAd solution is expensive and ineffective" was originally published by Macworld U.K..

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