Apple kicked off 2010 with the purchase of the Quattro mobile advertising platform. Fast forward eight months, and Apple is now pulling the plug on the Quattro network in favor of its own iAd mobile advertising platform.
Apple sent a letter to current Quattro clients this week announcing that the mobile advertising network will be shut down effective September 30. From that point forward, Apple will focus its mobile advertising efforts exclusively on the iAd platform.
Boris Fridman, CEO of Crisp Wireless, a mobile ad company, commented "Quattro has been losing credibility as a cross-platform ad network since the acquisition so while we may see some publishers looking to move to a new ad network partner, it has already been shifting in that direction."
Fridman also noted that the void created by the loss of Quattro will create new opportunities for other ad networks- - especially with customers that rely on Quattro to advertise on Android smartphones. Apple's iAd Network is a capable mobile marketing platform, but--like so many other things "Apple" - it only works on Apple's mobile platforms.
That said, the division between iAd for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch, and competing mobile ad networks for other smartphone and tablet platforms causes the reaction from the mobile advertising industry to be less than enthusiastic.
Greystripe CEO Michael Chang is disappointed by Apple's plan. "Apple's decision to drop support for major audience segments on non-Apple platforms is ultimately bad for their advertisers and developers. Advertisers care about audiences, reach and user engagement, not specific platforms," adding "As the Android audience catches up to iPhone, and Blackberry continues to improve the potential for user engagement, these smartphone platforms will become increasingly important for advertisers."
The Crisp Wireless CEO agrees, stating "The mobile advertising industry does not need more fragmentation. The entire mobile advertising industry will benefit when there is less friction and when one creative [campaign] can run across the entire set of sites and apps in the media plan. One creative [campaign]. One set of reports. This will result in more satisfied agencies and advertisers and ultimately in larger repeat buys."
The move to shut down Quattro may benefit Apple, but ruffles feathers in the process. Apple can focus its resources and efforts in streamlining and improving the iAd Network, and hopefully convert existing Quattro customers to switch over to iAd for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch platforms.
Mobile ad providers, and the customers that rely on mobile advertising to market and promote their companies are left in the lurch, though. The Apple audience is too large to be ignored, but rather than create a single unified, cross-platform marketing campaign, advertisers will have to develop one for iOS, and one for every other platform.