Andrew Vanacore spins a whole story out of one curious datapoint today: he says that on USA Today’s iPad app, advertisers such as Marriott are paying “about $50 for every thousand times, or impressions, the ad appears”, compared to less than $10 on the website.
I just downloaded the app to see for myself, and indeed the ad doesn’t work unless and until the iPad has an internet connection. Unlike say the Wired app, where the ads are downloaded with the app itself, the USA Today app can download the ad from an ad server which counts impressions.
Maybe that makes some sense, for advertisers which are used to running ads on a CPM basis. But it seems to me that one of the great things about the iPad is that it can be read in a leisurely fashion in places where there isn’t an internet connection — by the pool, or on the subway, or in an airplane. The problem is that Apple, if I have my facts right on this one, either can’t or won’t tell publishers how many times a particular ad has been viewed, if the ad is downloaded as part of an app.
In reality, this isn’t much of a problem at all: it’s long past time that we got over the tyranny of the CPM, especially when it comes to glossy, high-production-value ads on the iPad; the bigger problem is that Apple is far from forthcoming with the kind of demographic data that advertisers crave.
In any event, I look forward to a time when iPad ads — at least the ones within apps — are not sold or counted on a CPM basis. And I suspect that so long as they are, revenues will be significantly lower than they could be — not least because those ads simply won’t appear for many people trying to use the app.