Major advertisers keen on the iPad

02 April 2010

NEW YORK: Companies like Nike, MillerCoors and FedEx are all aiming to establish a presence on the iPad, either by developing applications or through leveraging a range of new advertising formats.

Apple unveiled its "tablet" device in January this year, and it will officially be launched on April 3, with titles like Time and the New York Times having tailored their content specifically for this platform.

Mobile advertising expenditure was estimated to have reached $416 million (€307m; £273m) in the US last year, and it is hoped the iPad will serve to increase demand going forward.

Nike, the sportswear giant, is releasing a branded "app" for this appliance, offering tips and guidance on training techniques for footballers, and featuring Cristiano Ronaldo, who it sponsors.

Its "Nike Football+ Coach Edition" was produced via a partnership with AKQA, the digital agency, and provides videos and a wide selection of other material.

MillerCoors, the brewer, will also sponsor Sporting News Today's iPad output, with a video for Coors Light appearing before highlights of major events from ice hockey to baseball.

This title will be distributed via an application produced by Zinio, the digital publishing specialist, with subscriptions starting at $2.99 a month.

Federal Express, the delivery firm, has signed up to appear in the Wall Street Journal's iPad edition, and argued this approach offers considerable advantages over traditional wireless handsets.

Steve Pacheco, FedEx's director of advertising and marketing communications, said that the iPad was "mobile advertising but without the limitations of a mobile phone."

"It has more functionality and the screen size is bigger," he continued.

One challenge for brands is that the iPad is not compatible with the Flash software made by Adobe, which supports many websites and online ads.

Buick, the auto marque owned by General Motors, will promote its LaCrosse model on the Wall Street Journal's iPad variant, and initially trialled directing users to and its mobile equivalent.

However, as the first of these services used Flash, and the latter did not fill the device's screen, it ultimately decided to send people clicking on its ads to a simplified website.

Craig Bierley, Buick's marketing manager, said this was "something we have to work through ... Our intent is to be careful about the user experience." 

As Apple has only released a limited number of "dummy" iPads, many executions are being designed without full knowledge of how they will appear on-screen.

Fidelity Investments, which has bought space in the iPad version of Time, opted to combine video with static print ads that will not contain links to external web properties.

"We're flying a little bit blind," Jim Speros, Fidelity's chief marketing officer, said.

Kia Motors, the car manufacturer, also stated an interest in using this medium for marketing purposes, but expressed reservations about proving the return on investment from this activity.

"As soon as there is something that is credible in terms of measurement, we will dip our toe in the water," Michael Sprague, its vice president of marketing, said.

Data sourced from Wall Street Journal; additional content by Warc staff