Big advertisers turn to the iPhone

14 May 2009

NEW YORK: An increasing number of major advertisers, from Burger King to Coca-Cola and Kraft, are looking to Apple's iPhone as a means of connecting with consumers, a trend that is set to boost mobile adspend in the US this year.

It has previously been argued that "smartphones" will revolutionise the mobile advertising landscape, with applications that can be downloaded by the owners of such devices being one key way that brands can utilise the fast-growing medium.

Kraft has made an "app" available to iPhone owners that features hundreds of recipes, but unlike many similar tools, which are free, the company also charges a fee of $0.99 (€0.73; £0.65) to purchase it.

Coca-Cola has also launched the Magic Coke Bottle, which users "shake" using their cellphone, and then "remove" the lid in order to find answers to all of their "questions about life, love and the universe."

Audi's A4 Driving Challenge was downloaded by over 350,000 people in the first two week's following its launch, and is an example of a company using games as a means of engaging consumers.

Similarly, Burger King offered a free game linked to Valentine's Day, and which featured a full-screen ad, resulting in a 14% active response rate among those who downloaded the programme.

Hardee's, the fast-food chain owned by CKE, has also developed the iBurger, which allows consumers to take virtual "bites" of its Western Bacon Thickburger.

Steve Lemley, CKE's vp, media and field marketing, argues this enabled it to reach 18–34 year-old men, a demographic that is "difficult to reach on television but spend a lot of time on gadgetry."

Forrester, the research firm, has reported that there are currently over 35,000 apps available via the iPhone, and that developing such a tool can cost between $20,000 and $75,000.

As such, Neil Strother, an analyst at the company, argues these tools need to be promoted via more traditional mediums, or else they "risk getting lost in the sea of applications that is the App Store."

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal/MediaPost; additional content by WARC staff