Apple pulls the plug on Quattro Wireless


Apple will shut down Quattro Wireless, the mobile ad network it acquired earlier this year for $275 million, as it shifts its focus to its new iAd platform. Apple’s VP for iAd Andy Miller confirmed the move in a message sent to developers and advertisers, announcing the computing giant is no longer accepting new campaigns on Quattro and will work to wind down existing marketing initiatives.

As of 9/30, all iPhone and iPod touch campaigns will run exclusively across the iAd network. “Since the launch of the iAd Network just over a month ago, advertisers and developers have been telling us how much they love this powerful new way to reach iPhone and iPod touch users right in their favorite apps,” Miller writes. “We believe iAd is the best mobile ad network in the world, and starting next month we’re going to focus all of our resources on the iAd advertising platform.”

He adds that developers and marketers with questions about the transition should contact their account manager.

The Quattro network served ads across multiple platforms and devices–its demise should create new opportunities for rival ad networks like Millennial Media, Jumptap and Greystripe, although the latter expressed concern over Apple’s move.

“We think that Quattro’s decision to drop support for major audience segments on non-Apple platforms is ultimately bad for their advertisers and developers,” writes mobile ad network Greystripe’s director of marketing Dane Holewinski on the firm’s blog. “Advertisers care about audiences, reach and user engagement, not specific platforms. 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.”

Apple’s decision to shut down Quattro follows in the wake of reports that iAd is off to a bumpy start. Roughly six weeks after Apple formally introduced iAd, campaign delays continue to undermine the service–The Wall Street Journal reports that among the 17 iAd partners Apple named prior to the system’s July 1 rollout, only Unilever and Nissan officially unveiled campaigns that ran for the duration of the month. Citigroup, Disney and J.C. Penney have since launched iAd campaigns, and other confirmed partners remain in the mix. However, luxury marketer Chanel–another iAd partner–said it no longer has plans to introduce a campaign.

Marketers blame the delays on Apple’s insistence on retaining tight creative control over the iAd development effort–execs say the average iAd requires eight weeks from inception to completion, far longer than the norm for mobile ads. One source said the actual ad creation process, supervised by Apple, typically requires two weeks longer than anticipated. Another headache: Apple does not inform marketers where their iAd campaigns will appear, and does not allow advertisers to limit where their ads do and do not run, reports Fierce Mobile Content.

Most marketers are spending a minimum of $1 million to launch on the iAd network, with some paying more than $10 million for levels of exclusivity within their respective industry vertical. Apple is charging $10.00 per thousand impressions for each iAd banner as well as a cost-per-click fee of $2.00.