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Apple's lack of transparency over iAd campaign metrics frustrates advertisers

NEW YORK ? Apple has frustrated clients using its iAd advertising platform with a lack of transparency about campaign metrics, according to panelists at the Digiday:Apps conference.

Steve Jobs? company made waves and stoked serious excitement with the announcement of iAd earlier this year. However, early advertising partners believe that the platform would be more valuable if Apple were more forthcoming with campaign data.

?It?s really frustrating in terms of the lack of data [Apple] is willing to give to publishers, and the challenges publishers are having,? said Robin Steinberg, senior vice president and director of print investment and activation at Starcom MediaVest, New York.

?Publishers want to share data ? that?s not saying that none of them want to control it ? but Steve Jobs is controlling it 100 percent, which is creating pushback, and preventing publishers from getting apps out on a timely basis,? he said.

Ms. Steinberg was participating on ?The iPad, iAds and the hype: What you need to know? panel moderated by John Gaffney, senior editor of Digiday:Daily, New York.

The other panelists included Ed Darmanin, vice president of digital sales for The Weather Channel, Atlanta; Dan Rubin, senior vice president of strategy and analytics at Publicis Modem, San Francisco; and Kevin Granath, vice president of sales at Greystripe, San Francisco.

Transparency in advertising metrics
Most panelists agreed that Apple?s refusal to make iAd analytics more transparent has made mobile developers and advertisers wary.

?[Looking] back to the walled garden that Verizon, AT&T and Sprint used to have, [that the market] finally broke through, it?s interesting that it was Apple that broke through,? Publicis Modem?s Mr. Rubin said. ?And, now they?re going back to it.?

?It has scared people, the way it?s happening,? he said.

The reason why the lack of transparency is so troubling is because the further development of mobile marketing depends on the clear picture of consumers that metrics provide, per the panelists.

Marketers will have the most success in the future by integrating mobile and other media into a single marketing ecosystem, and that evolution depends on good metrics.

?It?s important that we view all mobile devices as part of an ecosystem,? Mr. Rubin said. ?It?s not about the success of one device, it?s about the success of all of them.

?That?s where we need to go,? he said. ?That continuity between devices will take the pressure off of one device, if we could all work together with analytic firms and media-tracking companies and our own metrics.?

Content on the iPad
Apple?s other recent innovation, the iPad, has the potential to change the media landscape in major ways, according to MediaVest?s Ms. Steinberg.

?The iPad is going to revolutionize how we do business, not only from an advertising perspective, but from a consumer perspective, too,? Ms. Steinberg said. ?We?re going from static to dynamic content on a much more timely basis.

?Think about magazines ? for the most part they?re weekly, monthly, et cetera, and there?s a lag in distribution of content,? she said. ?Now there?s the opportunity for consumers to get this type of content in a timely form.?

It will be important for publishers to think carefully about how they present content on the iPad.

?I don?t think it?s one size fits all,? Ms. Steinberg said. ?I don?t see the right strategy being replicating the same content [on the iPad].?

Still, the MediaVest executive said that the short window for publishers to develop for the iPad after its announcement resulted in exactly that content strategy.

?A lot of what?s going on is the first step ? publishers had thirty days to understand the different type of software needed to work with to develop and distribute and get advertising support,? Ms. Steinberg said. ?Most just went with a replica strategy.?

Indeed, publishers will begin to offer a more differentiated line of applications.

?Cosmo may not have one app, it may have four,? Ms. Steinberg said. ?One could be based on utility, one on ecommerce, one on true content.

?It?s very exciting in terms of how we can deliver content,? she said.

Final Take
Kevin Granath, vice president of sales at Greystripe, San Francisco