Apple loosens iAd grip to better rival Google

Apple is loosening its stringent iAd regulations in the hope of better taking on Google AdMob in mobile advertising, it's reported, with lower promotional spend commitments and more flexibility in pricing structures. The tweaks have been made in response to persistent negative feedback from marketers, WSJ reports, critical of Apple's stubborn approach to ads served up on iPhone and iPad. Currently, Apple holds roughly 20-percent of the US mobile ad market, IDC claims, with Google on top with 24-percent.

In reaction, Apple is supposedly further lowering the cost of entry to iAd. The marketing spend commitment – originally $1m and then lowered to just half that – will be trimmed to $400m, insiders claim, with a cap on price-per-tap being applied as Google handles adverts. Previously, no caps were permitted, meaning that eager viewers could chew through an advertising budget in short order; Apple charges $10 per thousand ad views and $2 per tap.

Meanwhile, Apple is also holding outreach training programs, in an attempt to convince potential advertisers that there's value in the iAd service. That does seem to be at least partially true, at least in terms of engagement: Unilever, one of the first companies onboard with iAd, claims to be seeing positive responses from its campaigns.

In fact, Unilever ad viewers spend on average 68 seconds viewing the adverts, something the company describes as "amazing." iAds content is generally more interactive than traditional adverts, with a banner linking through to mini-games, video content and more. Last December, Apple released an iAd creator tool that simplified the creation of the advertisements, a process that could previously have demanded Flash skills.