Apple Ads on the Web

Listening to a recent episode of The Talk Show, John Gruber and Jason Snell were talking about advertising.  John’s talked about this before, about the mess that is web advertising these days, and Jason gave some great insider perspective, as a long-time MacWorld editor.

Setting aside whether ads are good or bad, the web today needs ads to run. But the way that advertising is currently implemented is terrible. The sites that create content, like iMore or MacWorld, have to insert JavaScript from ad networks with no idea what’s going to end up being inserted into their pages, and often what ends up there is poor quality, both in content and in implementation.

John also brought up page load times, and ads are a big part of that.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a single, web-wide ad tracking standard?  And wouldn’t it be nice if your phone had the ability to pre-cache the ads, so that loading ads wouldn’t be slowing down your web surfing?

Nice is relative of course – having your phone downloading ads in the background for later presentation actually sounds kind of terrible, but look at it this way – your phone could download ads overnight or while on WiFi, so that on a slower network, the ads would already be local. 

There’s one company in a position to actually do this. Apple.

An Apple-provided extension to iAd that took on web advertising, not just in-app advertising, could really improve how ads are presented on iOS, in ways that no other ad network could. You’d save bandwidth and battery while surfing sites that used Apple’s ads, and the sites would load faster.

I have no idea if Apple is working on this, but changing the status quo, for the benefit of end users, in a way that makes their platform better, sounds like something they’d do.

Google could do it too, but in my mind it’s not as good a fit for Google.  More mobile web surfing happens on iOS, and richer ads are better than simpler ads.  Apple dabbled in rich ads with iAd, and I could see them taking this father.  A cached rich ad “experience” can be presented with no download time, and could be much more effective than the typical Google ad inventory.