Tuesday, January 26, 2010

iPhone and advertising

iPhone has been a discontinuity in the mobile world, and one way it has changed the status quo is by making advertising on the iPhone a real possibility. There already have been acquisitions in this space (Admob, Quattro), and given's Apple interest in this segment, one would expect things would change.

Right now, Safari is the most difficult browser to work with when it comes to online advertising, simply because it turns third party cookie tracking off by default. Most advertising, as we know it is HTTP Cookie based, although there are several work arounds for Safari (Flash Cookie, Local Storage etc). This is even worse on iPhone, because the UIWebView component that allows applications to render html (via webkit), runs in a sandbox environment - meaning that cookies can't be shared between browsers and applications (and not even within applications). I believe this would change - although anyone enterprising enough should be able to work around this as well. I have a work around in mind - which will only be a thought experiment till the time I am able to test it out, but I believe if it works, it would present excellent opportunities. I wonder if the companies already in this space have figured this out - it seems like they haven't, at least from this dated blog post on User First Web.

I wrote recently about the new AdMob service that can tie advertising to iPhone App Store downloads. I was curious whether this feature was limited to ads in applications only or would apply to ads viewed in Mobile Safari.

AdMob clarified this via email recently saying, “as our iPhone app download tracking relies on unique user information, it only functions for ads shown within applications.”

If you happen to bump on this post, and have anything interesting to say in this matter - I would be interested.

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