Apple’s iAd Workbench lets smaller developers better target ads in iOS

The famously controlling Apple(s AAPL) is handing over a little more control to its third-party developers: in the advertising department. During its annual developers conference this week Apple introduced iAd Workbench, a tool that will allow app makers to more easily participate in iOS ad campaigns, customize who sees them, and more quickly make banner ads.

From Apple’s iAd website:

With iAd Workbench you can target who you want, when you want, manually, automatically or both. Assign specific targeting criteria (such as device, gender, age, location and preferences) to your campaign, or have iAd find the right audience for you.

iAd Workbench

iAd Workbench

The idea is that brands can better target ads for their apps — and drive users to download them — based on the type of app and user. Workbench will also estimate each campaign’s reach, and let developers adjust how much they’re spending (either on a cost-per-click or cost-per-acquisition basis) based on the response the ads are getting.

The ads in question are banner ads that appear within iOS apps. The minimum purchase amount to participate in an ad campaign in Workbench is $50. That price is drastically lower than the required buy-in when the iAd program first debuted in 2010. At that time it was  aimed at recruiting large global brands with huge ad budgets; it was reported that Apple was charging a $1 million minimum to brands that wanted to show interactive ads to Apple’s iOS app users. Those brands included Disney, Nissan, AT&T, General Electric and more.

iAd has not worked out the way Apple had initially planned: at the end of 2012, after more than two years in business, iAd had just a  2.9 percent share of the U.S. mobile ad market. Apple’s developers are making money from their apps — Tim Cook said Monday they’ve paid developers $10 billion since 2008 and $5 billion in just the last year.

With the lower prices, smaller developers with very limited budgets will have a better chance to participate and advertise. In another nod to development outfits with fewer resources, Apple also included a new iAd Producer option, allowing quicker and easier crafting of banner ads. The original iAd concept required the creation of complex interactive ads. The new Producer offers five pre-made banners for iPhone/iPod touch and iPad that developers can quickly customize.