Apple courts brands for UK iTunes Radio launch

Apple is on a recruitment drive to bolster the UK arm of its iAd business as it holds ongoing talks with UK agencies over potential iAd opportunities for brands ahead of the impending launch of its iTunes Radio service here.  

The iPhone manufacturer has posted a number of ads recruiting for its iAd business, requesting applications for both production and business development staff, and is currently in discussions with UK media-buying agencies about opportunities for brands to buy into its iAd propositions, according to sources.

Apple is believed to be promoting commercial opportunities that will eventually be available to brands whenever iTunes Radio launches here this autumn, with Nissan and PepsiCo having been confirmed as debut launch partners, of the ad-funded service for in the US.

McDonald’s, and P&G have also been reported as US launch partners of the service. Marketing Week approached Apple for comment on its iAds proposition here, but it declined.  

Details have yet to be confirmed about the date of iTunes Radio’s UK launch, although industry sources tell Marketing Week Apple’s negotiations with brands and agencies are happening at a global level. This suggests that at least some of the same brands may also be on board when iTunes Radio is eventually made available in the UK.

Financial details of the Nissan and PepsiCo deals have yet to be shared publicly. However one key development about the upcoming iAd opportunities, is that the mobile ad service doesn’t now carry its earlier hybrid pricing model. This pricing fused elements of the CPM and CPC pricing models, inflated to costs of campaigns.

This comparatively unorthodox pricing model – plus Apple’s perceived attempt to bypass media-buying agencies – is reported to have alienated many in the advertising industry, with Apple eventually drastically dropping its iAd prices compared to its original rate card.

But since then Apple has had a change of leadership at its highest levels and with the launch of its iOS 7 platform is understood to be taking a less contentious approach (to those from the traditional advertising industry at least) to how it promotes it the mobile ad service, having since hired ex-Omnicom employee Paul Wright to lead its iAd offensive in EMEA.  

The launch of iAd propositions via iTunes Radio comes as the recently-formed IAB Audio Council prepares to bring out a handbook helping brands to take full advantage of the opportunity of the possibilities posed by online radio.

Simon Pearce, IAB Audio Council and RadioWorks employee, says: “Obviously online radio is taking off and services like that can only enhance it. First of all, we want to make clear to brands just what online radio actually is and then get them to invest in it from there.”

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