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Google target slips ads into iPhone apps

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AdMob - the self-described "world's largest mobile advertising marketplace" that was recently snapped up by Google for tidy $750m - is introducing a new in-app advert and product-purchasing system for the iPhone.

Reports scurried across the web yesterday about Apple being in talks with AdMob about a possible acquisition before Google grabbed it. Today, it appears that those talks may have focused on the AdMob's new Interactive Video Ad Unit for iPhone - which we'll call the IVAUiP, just for convenience's sake.

At its heart, the IVAUiP is merely a way for iPhone-app vendors to add in-video adverts, as Admob's product VP Ali Diab explained in a posting on his company blog, to "drive downloads of branded content."

Meaning, of course, to sell stuff.

The, um, genius of the IVAUiP is that it functions inside video content and thus enables that download driving to happen without a user needing to close down an enthralling video moment and launch a separate purchase-focused app. Which sounds as if Apple is granting AdMob an exemption from its one-app-at-a-time rule.

But the IVAUiP isn't really an app, as such. It's instead an app overlay that connects to AdMob's "globally distributed servers" to access and play those in-app pitches. Those servers then match the bitrate of the streamed video to the iPhone's connection quality, whether it be EDGE, 3G, or Wi-Fi.

The pitches can be either self-running or cued by the user. In their self-running mode, they're targeted at what Diab warmly refers to as a "captive, engaged audience." In click-to-play mode, the IVAUiP will deliver an "interactive video experience" touting the vendor's products and offering links to Amazon, the iTunes Store, or another wish-fulfilling sales site.

In either mode, advertisers can add - what else? - social-networking capabilities so that those captive advert-watchers can share video content and engage in any other "social media element," as Diab puts it, that advertisers might want to employ.

What Diab accurately describes as "the highly measureable mobile environment" is rapidly becoming a target-rich environment for vendors and device makers as they endeavor to squeeze every possible dollar out of consumers' pockets. Being "highly measureable," the mobiile market knows who you are, where you are, and in the case of compass-equipped devices such as the iPhone 3GS, potentially even which direction you're looking.

Add that "measurability" to the ability to disable your iPhone - or other device - while delivering ads (as a recent Apple patent allows), and you may soon be carrying a highly personalized and increasingly insistent temptation machine in your pocket.

And you thought it was supposed to be a phone. ®

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