AdMob announced new ad units for the iPhone today that take advantage of unique features of the touch screen user interface. They've done some cool stuff such as letting users slide the units to get more information as well as obtain more information (embedded XHTML mobile page) without leaving their existing session (Custom Canvas). This should be very attractive to both media companies and advertisers. Media companies don't lose their audience while advertisers get more real estate and interactivity. One can also interact with the Canvas – fill out forms, play games, etc.
My favorite part of their announcement, however, is the "action icons" in the ad units. They can launch videos, maps, application store, web, etc.
My colleague Neil Strother just finished some research on the need for call-to-action within mobile advertising. Enabling direct response and driving product sales are two of the top five or so objectives that marketers have when leverage mobile advertising. They also want metrics – click-through-rates (CTR's) have been fairly straightforward for networks to report, but call-to-action is more difficult when one session is abandoned for another. Quantifying the impact of mobile advertising in terms of actual leads generated or sales delivered should be a hit with advertisers. Already, nearly one-sixth want to utilize click-to-call to generate leads real time. More than twice that number wants to drive product sales. An integrated ad experience that provides a map, telephone number, driving directions, etc. is certain to deliver on a large portion of the advertisers' wish lists. Like many other mobile initiatives, we now need to wait on inventory (= audience). Will be interesting to watch and see the impact of the 3G iPhone on the ad market during the second half of this year.
It's very cool stuff as far as ad units go. I raised the question at a recent IAB event – which platform is more important to advertisers, Apple's or Google's Android? Android hasn't launched yet, and Apple has a relatively small, but active user base. I asked a panel of four experts this question, and they were evenly split in their answers.