iPhone 5: A Boon for Mobile Advertisers

Sep. 13, 2012 | by Rachel.Pasqua

iphone 5Today’s iPhone unveiling was a bit anticlimactic. The iPhone 5 is clearly chock-full of exciting features and improvements, but the blogosphere has been buzzing about all of them for months. I was hoping for a moment of surprise and delight (An iPad Mini! Full blown support for near field communication!) But sometimes, getting what you expected isn’t such a bad thing, and in the case of iPhone 5, what we expected will be a big leap forward for us all — marketers and end users both. In short, the increase in size and processing speed make the iPhone 5 act more like a mini tablet, which could be a boon for companies that want to build connected brands with mobile advertising.

First, let’s look at what happened today:

The iPhone Got Taller

Those 176 extra pixels in the display screen aren’t such a big leap, but I think it’s going to make a difference on multiple levels for users and marketers alike.

Sites that haven’t yet been enabled for mobile will be a bit easier to view and navigate thanks to increased screen real estate. Mind you, marketers still need to think about mobile content and usability — it’s just that your desktop site will fare a little bit better on a smartphone. Videos and games will benefit from bigger and better visuals courtesy of the retina display. But mobile ads could really win big. One hundred seventy-six extra pixels isn’t exactly acreage, but it’s just enough to make mobile ad creative a little more eye-catching and get users more deeply engaged.

Accidental clicks will be less likely, and actions a little easier to execute. The potential for taking action within the ad will be also greater, for example, watching videos, using social triggers, entering info, and even executing transactions. And, best of all, that extra screen size will be a bonus for the landing pages and sites that those campaigns link to, making them easier to use. It might be the most simple and predictable element, but we expect this change in screen size to have the biggest long-term impact for users and for marketers alike.

The iPhone Got Faster

There’s 4G and then there is LTE 4G, which makes other forms of 4G seem like 4G Lite. The LTE standard used by iPhone 5 enables the fastest mobile data delivery possible, speeding up our browsers and apps and, inevitably, making mobile content consumption skyrocket. Apple including it was pretty much a foregone conclusion and it’s super exciting from the user perspective. Now that your screen is bigger and your data is coming in faster, will you be more likely to perform more immersive tasks on your phone? Probably. Up until now, smartphone usage has been largely relegated to the more practical tasks such as — information gathering. But now, with a bigger screen and better graphics, and the improved usability that both enable, it’s possible that we’ll be more likely to do things we used to save for the desktop or tablet — to read ebooks, use apps on a deeper level, to do more intensive research on a brand or product and, of course, shop. For those users who remain tablet-less (at least for the time being), it’s possible that we’ll see the new iPhone start to bridge that gap in behavior.

But there are some huge potential downsides to 4G that were not addressed during today’s event: battery life, for one. 4G is a notorious power hog, and what good is your shiny new iPhone 5 if the battery can’t keep up? And what do you do when that super fast 4G data makes you so greedy for content that you exceed your data cap in record time? Unless the carriers plan to revisit their pricing, many of us will be facing down mammoth data bills.

The iPhone Got Skinnier

Given Apple’s zeal for aesthetics and efficient, the introduction of a thinner iPhone was a foregone conclusion. The exact ramifications are unclear though — will we be more attached to our iPhones if they’re lighter and smaller? Most of us already take them everywhere we go so the benefits here are nebulous.

Of course, the unveiling came with disappointments out of the way — those rumors that we were hoping would be true but knew deep down probably weren’t:

Near Field Communication (NFC)

NFC support was probably the biggest item on my wish list. For NFC to really take off in the United States, it needs Apple’s support. Without it, uptake will continue to lag, and it will take longer than I’d like for us to see proximity micro payments and NFC marketing become a real scenario.

But based on the leaked images of the iPhone 5 casing, it was clear this wasn’t going to happen. The glass-and-metal construction was clearly not engineered with room for an NFC antenna in mind. Of course there are workaround solutions out there, like the NFC sleeves we saw at SXSW this year. But for retailers to invest in the infrastructure and users to jump on the bandwagon, Apple has to be onboard. Apple just own too big a share of the user marketer for NFC to take off without them.

T-Mobile Availability

T-Mobile subscribers would have loved to see Apple officially on the T-Mobile menu — the more the merrier! — but T-Mobile just isn’t ready yet in terms of speed and network coverage, and Apple cares too much about user experience to let the new iPhone run on a network where its performance might be compromised.

Liquid Metal

Ok, so this wasn’t a deal breaker by any means but it sounded so awesomely Matrix-y and sci-fi that I was hoping to see liquid metal materialize. And, for anyone who’s dropped your iPhone and shattered the casing (and who hasn’t?) the benefit here is obvious — the same beautiful aesthetic minus the liability of glass. I think liquid metal is going to be part of Apple’s product strategy moving forward, but odds are Apple will test it in smaller product components for the time being.

The verdict? While today held no major surprises, with the big features we expected plus a variety of small but meaningful additions, from Passbook to the super cool VIP feature in Mail, we have a lot to look forward to. Sometimes, less is more.

Rachel Pasqua is iCrossing vice president of mobile

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    Please note: the opinions expressed in this post represent the views of the individual, not necessarily those of iCrossing.

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