iPad advertising formats that work

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At ad:tech in New York last week, executives from Condé Nast and National Public Radio shared some of their tactics in capturing advertisers and developing new creative for their iPad apps. These two large media companies may not be representative of what publishers with smaller budgets and smaller audiences are able to do to attract advertisers to their iPad apps, but their exploration of iPad advertising gives some clues about what's working.

Give purpose, don't repurpose.  

 
Michal Shapira, executive director of creative services and CND Studio at Condé Nast, said during a panel discussion at ad:tech that repurposing content from other mediums (such as TV commercials) doesn't work as well as creating content specifically for the iPad. “Detailed information and how-tos worked really well on the iPad,” Shapira said. 
 
Condé recently conducted a study about iPad engagement in order to better inform its advertising. Shapira said “ads that resonated the most with our users had a narrative of some kind.”  
 

Links should be relevant.

 
Shapira said if users click on a picture of a purse in an ad, they expect to go to a page with more information on that bag and the opportunity to purchase it; it's disappointing if a link goes straight to a company's homepage. She noted that the iPad is a powerful vehicle leading to purchase, citing a Nielsen study that found nearly a quarter (24 percent) of iPad users admitted to making an in-store purchase after seeing a product in an iPad ad. Almost half (48 percent) said they made a purchase on the Internet or phone and 8 percent made a purchase through the iPad. 
 

Push the envelope.

 
Condé is aggressively experimenting with multimedia and other formats in iPad advertising. A single video is the most popular advertisement, followed by slideshows, Shapira said. Other formats they've tried include: 
 
  • photo 360 (allowing users to swipe and view at any angle);
  • using the accelerometer (e.g. if someone shakes the iPad, an action happens in the ad);
  • social media integration;
  • integrated campaigns (e.g. offering an exclusive pilot episode of a show in addition to inserting the DVD into the print edition);
  • multiple links (e.g. using several links in an advertisements to separate places, such as e-commerce, a sweepstake and a website);
  • deep linking to other apps within apps.
Interestingly,  Shapira said containing links within the app itself is better than linking externally. “It's much smoother and more seamless for users if everything is contained within the app itself,” she said. (Not everyone would agree, as apps like  Condé's have been criticized for their “walled garden” mentality.)
 
Shapira added that they are doing more with custom campaigns and experimenting with other capabilities like 3D, offering downloadable calendar appointments, and tapping into the mobile device's GPS capabilities. “We're constantly looking ahead and pushing the envelope in this space,” Shapira said.
 

Incorporate sponsorships.

 
Sponsorships have roots in print publishing but are getting a breath of fresh air on the iPad. Compared to other advertising formats, publishers see sponsorship as the most effective model in the mobile market (28 percent), according to a recent study by the Audit Bureau of Circulations
 
Condé Nast's Gourmet Live app has incorporated sponsorships for its editorial content. For instance, Bertolli sponsored Italian recipes, which are delivered the user as a reward at the end of an article. 
 
NPR tries to offer an integrated experience that gives sponsors the ability to reach the user ― but stay out of the way,  said Bryan Moffett, vice president of digital strategy and sponsorship operations at National Public Media, the parent company of NPR. Any NPR listener is so familiar with the brief note about a sponsorship (“Support for this podcast is provided by ...”) that it isn't annoying; listeners are aware it only lasts a few seconds, he said. 
 
On the NPR iPad app (about 700,000 downloads), he said the pre-roll gets conversion rates anywhere from 6 to 7 percent to as high as 20 percent. “It's really effective for the user and the sponsor,” Moffet said.  
 
iPad sponsorships haven't scaled yet, but they have proven to be a way to offer compelling creative that you can't do in a banner or a podcast. “The engagement is so high on these units that we can charge premium for them,” said Moffett. 

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