Some Early iPad Apps Deliver Better Ad Experience Than Others

Following the launch of Apple’s iPad device last week, major media brands such as the Wall Street journal and the New York Times were among the first to unveil ad-supported applications for the device. WSJ launched its paid application with sponsorship from Coca-Cola, Buick, Capital One, FedEx and Oracle, while the NYT partnered exclusively with Chase Sapphire for its free Editor’s Choice application.

It’s early days, of course, but initial reaction from some agency executives suggests certain apps provide better ad experiences than others. Jason Klein, co-president of interactive agency LBi’s U.S. headquarters, praised Chase Sapphire’s ads within the NYT application. Though the ads themselves are essentially static, print-like ads, tapping through presents the user with a dedicated iPad landing page which offers the ability to apply for a card within the application itself.

“It’s smart architecture for the user to remain within the app environment. The landing page also looks completely optimized for the device, features a strong call to action, and allows users to enroll there and then. That optimization makes sense, since they’ve bought out a month or two’s sponsorship,” he said. “It’s pretty elegant.”

By contrast, and despite making use of some attractive units, ads within the WSJ application instead drive users away from the application to browser-based landing pages. As a result, users are then forced to re-open the application and begin navigating content from scratch – an inconvenience that seems likely to deter users from engaging with advertiser content in future.

Klein described that issue as “a significant design flaw,” adding, “some advertisers went to effort to continue the experience in an iPad friendly format. Anyone not doing that is missing a huge opportunity.” He conceded, however, that advertisers and publishers were still “figuring out the platform and tweaking their approaches.”

wsj-coke.jpg In terms of the ad formats themselves, however, those in the WSJ appear more innovative than those currently found in apps such as the USA Today and BBC News offerings. At present the pair are offering fairly standard static banner like formats, which reveal landing pages upon selection. However, that content is again presented within the application environment, allowing users to return to the content they were viewing at any time.

By contrast the WSJ application features some more inventive ad formats in the form of full-page interstitials and collapsible overlays – most of which feature some form of branded video content.

In relation to those formats, Klein said he wouldn’t be surprised to see a similar user reaction to interstitials on the iPad as is often received on regular Web sites. “The iPad app environment has no rules or standards yet, so we’ll likely see a lot of experimentation with advertisers and publishers trying a few different executions to see what gets traction,” he said.

Apple unveiled its own plans to offer advertising solutions within the iPad environment last week. CEO Steve Jobs said much of the advertising that currently exists on mobile devices “sucks,” and that his vision for ads on the device would be far more “engaging and emotive” than the solutions currently available.

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