A new report from Bloomberg notes that Apple may be expanding its advertising business beyond the App Store and other first-party apps such as News and Stocks. With this plan, Apple could introduce ads into other pre-installed, first-party apps like Apple Maps, where ads have already been tested, the report claimed. And later, Apple can roll out ads to other Apple apps, such as Books and Podcasts.
The additions could help boost annual revenues for Apple’s advertising business, currently $4 billion, to reach double digits, the report said, making Apple a bigger player in the digital advertising industry.
Today, Apple offers a variety of ads in the App Store, including display ads in the Store Search tab, in addition to the search ads that appear at the top of search results when users type specific keywords to find apps. It was recently said that Apple expanding the selection of App Store ad slots to also include ads in the main Today tab and at the bottom of the list of third-party apps in the “You might also like” section of app recommendations.
Elsewhere, Apple runs display ads in its first-party News and Stocks apps and broadcasts ads within its Live streams from Apple TV+ of MLB games and pre-game shows. (It shares some of its revenue from news ads with publishers, we should note.)
According to Mark Gurman’s Bloomberg Newsletter, Apple has already tested Search Ads internally within Maps. These work similarly to the App Store search ads, he says, in that they would allow an advertiser to bid on keywords to get their business back when a user searched for a particular term.
Meanwhile, the report suggests that publishers could pay to make their work appear higher in search results in Apple’s Books and Podcasts apps or that these apps could include display ads. However, it did not indicate whether any of these apps had seen ad tests.
Apple TV+ could also prove to be another major ad platform, the report also speculated, at a time when major streamers like Disney+ and Netflix have introduced more affordable ad-supported plans. Or Apple could offer some sort of free streaming hub backed by ads. This could compete with other free movies and TV streaming offerings, like those from The Roku Channel, Tubi or Amazon’s Freevee, perhaps.
Furthermore, Bloomberg noted that Todd Teresi, the vice president of Apple’s ad group, now reports directly to Eddy Cue, chief of services, an indication of the increased importance of the company’s advertising business.
The news follows a recent report from Digiday who, based on job openings, discovered that Apple appeared to be developing its own demand-side platform. It wasn’t clear whether this DSP would be dedicated to displaying ads in the App Store or other Apple-owned apps, or if it had broader ambitions. Apple did not comment on the report at the time.
Apple’s ability to capture more of the ad market for itself comes after the company made changes to its iOS platform that hurt the ability of third-party app makers to target their users with personalized ads. Apple’s ATT (App Tracking Transparency) platform allows users to choose not to be tracked – something Apple characterizes as just a user privacy feature. But the feature is also of great benefit to Apple, as it can use the data it collects through its own first-party apps to serve personalized ads. Over time, advertisers were able to shift some of their budget toward personalized advertising from Apple, especially if their advertising dollars spent on third-party apps would yield less powerful results due to the impact of ATT.
If Apple were to increase its advertising footprint, it could also increase pressure on the company to be more transparent about the revenue generated by the individual entities within Apple’s Services business, including the App Store and its advertising arm. Today, Apple’s Services are responsible for nearly a third of the company’s gross profit, a Bloomberg op-ed noted:stressing that investors should have the right to know how well these companies are performing.