The future of the iPhone for Advertisers

At the time of its launch Steve Jobs described it as “a revolutionary mobile phone and a breakthrough internet communications device”.

Apple claimed it would completely redefine consumers relationships a mobile phone. And they weren’t wrong. The iPhone is arguably the device that kick-started the smartphone market, and put smart devices in everyone’s pocket – which in turn has revolutionised the jobs of marketers.

However, following the release of the iPhone X and the year the iPhone turned 10, rather than look back, it feels like a good moment to look ahead to the challenges and opportunities facing Apple’s business. And crucially, what this means for the advertising industry.

Switching focus from hardware to apps and services

Let’s be clear, Apple is still one of the world’s most profitable businesses. But its recent bonus cuts owed to it not having met annual sales targets in 2016 pointed to a trend in the industry. Despite Apple’s huge announcement last week, overall there has been a lot less of a focus on hardware.

Instead, Apple has been increasingly focusing on services and apps, and it looks to be working. New Year’s Day 2017 saw the app store clocking up its biggest sales figure ever, with the most  downloaded app on the day being Mario Run.

Apple clearly sees TV-style content playing a role

As connected health wear becomes more popular there will also be a real opportunity to draw this kind of insight together and offer more personalised services, through devices including the AppleWatch.

Similarly as connected home devices also develop and become widely adopted, it’s likely that Apple will play a role in connecting these devices and making them easy to control through an Apple interface. Much like Apple is doing for entertainment via Apple’s new 4K TV.

Speaking of entertainment, exclusive content is being developed for iTunes such as Car Pool Karaoke and Planet of The Apps. Apple clearly sees TV-style content playing a role as consumers watch more video on the go.

This should provide marketers with an opportunity to develop higher quality ads for mobile, utilising innovative video ad formats such as 360 degree video, and moving away from the pop-ups often associated with online advertising.

Overcoming cookie-targeting issues on iOS

All of this increased focus on mobile apps, services and content will bring consumers online on mobile for longer. This should point to big opportunities for brands. Mobile is highly personalised and offers a highly engaged audience, with iOS users in particular often representing a lucrative market for brands running targeted campaigns.

However, targeted mobile campaigns are often still driven by cookie syncing, which isn’t supported on iOS.

At risk of getting highly technical, cookie syncing simply means matching the cookie from the supply side with that of the buy side. It means that the brand can be sure it’s buying the audience it wants, and that the publisher can be sure it is selling the right impression to the advertiser.

focusing less on the demographic profile of an audience

As a result, cookie syncing only really works in the Android web environment as targeted mobile campaigns are prevented from being delivered across iOS and apps, and are reaching relatively narrow audiences.

However prediction algorithms are combating this syncing issue by finding twins or lookalikes of audiences across iOS and apps through other parameters such as previous ad interest, significantly extending the reach of campaigns.

What’s more, focusing less on the demographic profile of an audience and more on the type of person that buys a product negates the issue of online advertising being ‘too narrow’ – something that P&G recently bemoaned about Facebook.

So, while the opportunities of mobile continue to accelerate as innovative businesses such as Apple work on new ways to engage consumers with their products and services we as an industry need to continue to innovate as the same pace – doing away with tired technologies that undermine the potential in front of us.

The focus for the industry should be on harnessing technology to find audiences across iOS, Android, apps and mobile web to ensure the opportunity of increased usage of mobile services is capitalised on.

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