Apple Has iAd Bookings Worth $60 Million

Apple has secured $60 million in commitments for its iAd mobile ad network and plans to unleash its first ads on July 1, CEO Steve Jobs revealed during a keynote speech today at the Apple Worldwide Developer Conference.

The company boasted the sum is nearly 50 percent of U.S. mobile ad spending anticipated during the second half of 2010, according to J.P. Morgan.

Initial ads will be limited to iPhone and iPod Touch devices, but the platform is baked into the company’s iOS 4 operating system, leaving the door open to distribution on iPad and other devices. Apple’s rich media formats allow users to remain in the app environment while interacting with ads, for instance by watching a video, playing a game or buying apps and media content such as music and TV shows from the iTunes store. Apple sells and serves the ads, and offers developers a 60 percent revenue share.

Apple named a number of brands that have committed to buy iAds. On the list are Best Buy, Campbell’s Soup, Chanel, Citi, DirecTV, GEICO, GE, Unilever and Walt Disney. The amounts they each paid for the campaigns remain unknown. Agency sources said last month that Apple wanted as much as $10 million for early iAd placements, and would couple those rates with a $2 click-through.

Rob Master, Unilever’s North American media director, said in a statement, “With iAd, we’ve been able to create some of our most powerful and compelling ads ever. iAd is the perfect mobile format to reach and engage with our customers.”

AdMob CEO Omar Hamoui said it’s tough to assess whether Apple will actually have 50 percent of the mobile ad revenues during the second half of 2010.

“I spent six months trying to figure out market share,” he said, referring to the regulatory approval process that AdMob cleared before it was acquired by Google for $750 million. “It’s difficult to come up with an accurate [number],” said Hamoui in response to a question from John Battelle, CEO of Federated Media, at the CM Summit in New York City.

Hamoui pointed out that Jobs’ estimate is based on the premise that all mobile ad revenue will total $120 million for the last six months of the year. He declined to disclose AdMob’s projected revenue.

Referring to animation and other features offered by the iAd, Hamoui said, “None of that is new. We’ve been doing that…probably for about nine months.” Jobs often refers to the fact that an iAd does not take a user out of the app. “Our ads have not launched a separate browser window,” he said.

Anna Maria Virzi contributed to reporting this story.

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