The Missing Apple TV Ad: The Case for Apple Pay

So far, major banks have been running TV ads promoting Apple Pay, and that's great. But why is Apple being so shy about its own technology and not running its own ads? I have wondered about that.

So far, I've seen TV ads from Chase, MasterCard and Visa for Apple Pay. Here are a few. There are others.

The fact that Apple is not promoting its own product has been quite noticeable. What's going on?

The Problem

Apple may think that for it to advertise the capabilities of Apple Pay is overly self-serving. Letting the banks carry the message because, of course, the big banks are enormously happy with Apple Pay and have a certain amount of street cred, may seem sensible. Rubbing shoulders with the big guys has worked before for Apple.

However, in my experience to date, in chatting with people, I have seen a lot of fear, uncertainty and doubt about Apple Pay. And that's even amongst clerks behind the counter. An alarming number of people I talked to don't know how Apple Pay works, and they even express concerns about its security.

Another issue is that while big banks are endorsing Apple Pay, everyday people don't necessarily have a lot of trust and enthusiasm for those same banks. Banks charge tiresome ATM fees and extract considerable interest and penalties (when they can) on credit card balances. Letting the big banks carry the message about Apple Pay misses the opportunity for Apple to make its own case in its own way.

Apple Pay has some exceptional features, explained by our Kelly Guimont: "How Apple Pay Mitigates Breach Fatigue." For example, Apple doesn't know your credit card number (if isn't isn't used for your Apple ID) or keep it on file in a way that can be hacked on their own corporate servers. Neither does Apple know what you bought, and the company expressly states that it doesn't have any interest. The range of the NFC signal on the terminals is only a few inches, and isn't likely to be intercepted. The data package transmitted is highly encrypted and only good for a one-time use. Even if captured by an unauthorized party, it's useless. Activating a new credit card on the iPhone 6/6 Plus is quick and extraordinarily easy. All this needs to be communicated.

Apple's Turn

I would think that, given the notable reluctance on the part of some major merchants to accept Apple Pay, Apple would want to counter their contrariness by telling its own compelling story and clearing the air on the security and privacy advantages of Apple Pay. It's hard to think of a major "product category" that Apple has worked so hard on and hasn't advertised in its own unique way, celebrating the intersection of technology and human needs.

The Apple Pay process involves some fairly technical issues, but a graceful and reassuring message by Apple itself, focusing on how they've made the user experience so great, seems to be a key to nurturing the confidence of the average, mostly uninformed potential customer.

I hope Apple does create such a TV ad. If so, it'll be fascinating to see how the company balances its traditional ad techniques with the necessary, highly informative content.