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Apple’s iAd will help developers advertise their apps -- from inside other apps

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A big knock on the ballooning size of mobile app marketplaces -- including Apple’s 225,000-member App Store -- is that if you’re an application developer, there aren’t many ways to stand out in the crowd. If your app is a bestseller, it can win a coveted spot on one of the category charts -- games, entertainment, music, etc -- and new apps get a few shining moments on the ‘new’ list before they join the masses in numberless obscurity.

But Apple is offering one answer to that concern with a new feature specifically aimed at allowing application developers to advertise their apps -- from within other apps. It’s a special subset of its new iAd mobile advertising network called iAd for Developers.

To the end user, it’s a rather simple concept. Say you’re using an app to look up movie showtimes: If the app uses iAd, you might see a banner pop up for another app, movie-related or otherwise. You’d then be able to look at the basic information about the app, and if you wanted to, buy and download it without leaving the original movie app.

(Yes, there is an Escheresque quality to the idea of apps within ads within apps.)

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These in-app app ads aren’t the flashy rich-media kind Apple showed off for Nike or Toy Story 3, but they still give developers a new, pre-defined route to get more eyeballs on their software. (App makers can also use keywords to exclude competitors from placing iAds in their apps).

Apple did not specify the rates that iPhone and iPad app developers would pay for the service, or whether they get a friendly discount. To use the service, developers first have to register and then speak to an iAd representative about their budget and the specifics of their campaign.

Details are also limited about how much control developers have in targeting their app ads to specific demographics or interest groups. An FAQ page about the service notes that Apple will ‘optimize your campaign to ensure the right audience is viewing and interacting with your ads.’

-- David Sarno


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