iPhone “App-vertising:” A Niche Within A Niche

mq_webapp_samplesWhen it comes to using iPhone apps as a marketing medium, two questions usually come to mind- whether to build your own app from the ground up, or piggyback on the success of already popular apps by advertising within them.

With so much competition these days, building your own branded iPhone app isn’t what it used to be.  Creating a niche app that will be viewed as both new, innovative and usable by iPhone users is much easier said than done.  Marketers are beginning to realize this concept and are instead opting to pick and choose apps that are both already popular with users, and slightly targeted to insert their message into.

By doing so, marketers are leaving the fierce competition that’s constantly brewing within the iPhone app ecosystem to the developers.  Their slowly learning the concept of sitting back while the developers duke it out over who can create the next top-10 app, and when one succeeds, the marketers can simply approach the developer and insert their message within the app.

Patrick Moorhead, director of Razorfish digital advertising, shares a similar a view in saying “iPhone has created a kind of irrational hysteria among brand marketers.  Let the app developers fight it out for who’s going to be the kingpin of the top 10 apps in Apple, and advertise in the top 10….it guarantees some baseline reach.”

Since advertising within iPhone apps is effectively utilizing a “niche within a niche,” media buyers don’t have a lot of time to “hunt and peck around for little niche opportunities,” Mr. Moorhead cautioned.  Beyond that, a recent survey conducted by Chitika found that advertisements viewed from iPhones achieved an average clickthrough rate of only .03 percent overall.

The idea of advertising via iPhones seems to be the latest and greatest form of mobile marketing, and most think that the sheer number of users means that any campaign that utilizes iPhones and iPhone apps will be successful no matter what.  With such a low average CTR and delicate app-based ecosystem, advertising on the iPhone is not what it’s cracked up to be.