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Apple’s Exclusive Ad Unit Signals Potential for Agency-Publisher Collaboration

in Creative & Tech with tags , , ,

Yesterday the New York Times visited 360i’s New York office. The folks at met with agency creative directors to discuss fresh approaches to display advertising. They shared with us some new integration opportunities for advertising and editorial, including the newest Apple homepage roadblock ad.

By now everyone who has visited the Wall Street Journal, CNN, Wired or NYT online (or read the trades) in the last few months has seen one or more of these placements. The most recent Apple ads featured the Mac and PC characters discussing how PC is as easy to use as 1 through 23 steps, mostly involving restarts. Another ad showed hundreds of iPhone app icons flying over the publisher masthead, across the page and into a waiting iPhone. The payoff: “Thanks a billion. One billion downloads. Only on the App Store.”

What you may not know is that these unique roadblock ads that dogleg homepage content on news sites are exclusive ad units, at least on the New York Times’ site. The New York Times offered exclusive placement as part of the media commitment.

The bad news: Given the exclusivity in the near-term, other marketers won’t be able to use this innovative ad shape to grab attention.

The good news: The new ad unit seems popular with readers, according to the Times. Although this may be a testament to the strength of the Apple campaign, more importantly, it may signal a new opportunity for collaboration between agencies and publisher editorial departments to develop new ways to engage consumers.

For instance, Cisco is partnering with the NYT to offer TimesPeople, a new mini social network that allows Times readers to share articles with each other. The integrated sponsorship allows Cisco to personify its “human network” brand strategy. Check it out at the very top of the NYT homepage.

Here are some of my predictions for emerging trends in online display advertising out of all of this:

1. On some sites, marketers will increasingly be able to integrate editorial. NYT is now offering “nano-sites,” which are essentially adver-content microsites that live on and can include editorial. These nano-sites carry the benefit of one less click for consumers to interact with rich advertiser content.

2. To help prove the value of display, more publishers will disrupt editorial for innovative ad placements. Over-the-page animations, expandables and roadblocks may soon be the norm on news and other demo-desirable publisher homepages.

3. Creative ideas will rule the day. Agencies, marketers and publishers will need to collaborate to find big ideas to justify interrupting Web pages and the consumer experience. As the oft-quoted Peter Parker so aptly put it, “with great power comes great responsibility.”