I’ve had the morning to toy around with iAd Producer, now available from Apple if you’re a registered iOS developer. It hits a real sweet spot for me, personally, as I have more than a handful of ad agency clients whose customers are undoubtedly interested in having some of these ads produced. Speaking technically, the app excitingly blends graphic design, user experience planning, web development, and iOS development.
iAds behave more-or-less like self-contained mini-sites. At minimum, they must contain:
- A banner (that the user will tap to bring up the iAd)
- A loading screen (that may or may not contain a pre-roll video)
- A content screen
Optionally, iAds can contain:
- A menu of pages
- As many sub-pages as you want (all on the same level)
Testing iAds is simple enough — you can use either the iPhone Simulator (via a helpful iAd Tester app) or in Safari. It appears that you can test iAds on a mobile handset, but since I don’t have an iPhone or iPod touch cable of running iOS 4.0 or above (sad trombone) I couldn’t get it to work. I would assume iAd Producer can somehow install iAd Tester on a compatible networked handset.
One can also upload iAds to the iAd Test Server. This seems a little mysterious as yet, and I’ve contacted Apple for a little more information about how this works — that is, as a service provider, and not someone buying media.
In any case, iAd Producer is a very useful tool that will allow even non-technical designers at ad agencies to produce appealing, complex iAd units with minimal effort. How iAds fit into the traditional agency model of designing, buying, and placing media, however, is a story for another day.