The internet is abuzz today with a blog post from the analytics company, Flury, titled "Is iPhone the Next American Idol?" According to Flurry, social games on the iOS "comprise a daily audience of more than 19 million who spend over 22 minutes per day using these apps." By their calculations, the installed customer base of social gamers have a similar reach as Dancing With The Stars and Sunday Night Football. Tack on a couple million social gamers and the user base is larger than the advertising giant that is American Idol. If you count in all other apps that aren't in the social gaming sphere, the iOS clearly dominates the user base of prime time television's hottest shows.
What's interesting to me are the conclusions drawn by Flurry. They end their blog post stating that, "The most obvious is the impact on the advertisement industry, which has relied on the reach generated by its prime time television slot for years. This season, while Americon Idol is busy shuffling judges, the people have voted: iOS social games are as prime time as prime time television."
While some people may find these findings telling, and I'm not saying that the iPhone will never be an important an advertising source as TV, I think that Flurry is missing a huge piece of advertising psychology.
As an app reviewer, I play more apps (including social games) than anyone ever should in their lives. I probably breeze through 99.9% of them as soon as they pop up, not even stopping to see what is trying to work its way into my heart. On the other hand, I could probably recap half of the ads I saw during last nights Sunday Night Football game because I was forced to watch them, and because some of them were catchy. The UPS "Logistics" ad alone was more memorable than every iOS ad I've ever encountered, bunched up into one.
Even local television advertisements are far more effective for the average consumer than any iPhone advertising scheme that I've seen. Again, there's not a chance that I could describe even one of the hundreds of iPhone ads that I've seen, but I can, on a whim, sing to you the Casa Ole ad with Jose Lima that played in the Houston area in the late 90's. Or ask me about George Brazil, or Gallery Furniture, or anything you want about Levitra or Zoloft.
As far as advertising goes, big television has to see the internet and DVR as much larger adversaries than the iOS. Until the iOS and the advertising companies (like Flurry) create advertising schemes that are truly catchy (or even informative), I just don't see iOS marketing attracting the big bucks that big TV does -- and until I start singing the jingle of an otherwise unknown company I only heard on my iPhone game, I don't think that people will ever find iOS social gaming to be "as prime time as prime time television."