The Apple Watch is set to debut sometime in Spring 2015, and the mobile ad industry is already looking at how they can use the device, and wearable devices in general. They’re finding they’ll need to “think different.”
For the current generation of iOS apps, Apple has set clear rules for developing branded apps and delivering ads to apps. The company publishes App Store Review Guidelines, including a section on what will and won’t be allowed for in-app ads.
The list is made up of three no-nos: cheating (artificially increased ad impressions); empty banners; and apps that are mainly ad-delivery devices are all banned. Other restrictions are listed under the Privacy section of the guidelines.
At this point in time, advertisers and developer don’t know if Apple will release specific guidelines for its new wearable device, or have any new pieces to add to the app approval process. Apple is reported to be working with companies such as Facebook, Yahoo, and other tech companies, but at this point, no details have been revealed.
Apple itself states that “With Apple Watch, developers can create WatchKit apps with actionable notifications and Glances that provide timely information. Starting later next year, developers will be able to create fully native apps for Apple Watch.” (When you see “Glances,” think “Widgets.” – Ed.)
One thing is for sure, the space for advertising on the new device is quite limited.
David Smith, an independent Mac and iOS developer, says, “I imagine you could theoretically show an ad within a Glance, but whether or not this would be permitted by Apple is another matter entirely.”
Investor and writer Taylor Davidson told Campaign the field is still open. “I don’t think people can quite imagine what new promotions are possible until we get a feel for the total UX of Watch.”
“I think the Watch experience will push companies and app developers to think of intelligent way to reach people through Apple Watch,” he continued. “The experience is unique enough from existing devices that simply applying the same ad models would be a mistake by all involved (Apple, app developers, advertisers). And I think Apple realizes that and will limit advertisements in Watch.”
Davidson went on to note that pushing existing ad models into a new medium never works, listing television, radio, and web and mobile as examples, “and it will hold true for wearables in general.”
One thing is for sure, ad companies and app developers will indeed be forced to “think different” when it comes to ads on the Apple Watch.