Digital Transformation Data & Privacy

Apple to introduce new App Store ad placements: the industry reacts

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By Kendra Clark | Senior Reporter

August 1, 2022 | 6 min read

With Apple set to roll out new ad units within its App Store, adtech, marketing and publicity experts spell out the potential benefits and challenges for brands looking to capitalize on the new opportunity.

Apple is planning to introduce new ads into its App Store within the ‘Today’ tab as well as on individual app pages, per multiple reports.

Ads within the ‘Today’ tab would promote specific apps, placing the apps seamlessly within the existing interface alongside a small label reading ‘Ad.’ On individual app pages within the App Store, users may encounter ads beneath the ‘You Might Also Like’ section that makes other app recommendations. Brands that advertise here will not be able to target specific apps, according to a 9to5Mac report, but will be relevant to the page’s context and the type of ad under which the ad appears.

App Store icon on mobile device

Apple will debut new ad placements within the App Store, giving marketers new monetization paths / Adobe Stock

The new formats add to Apple’s expanding ads business in the App Store. The tech giant already places ads on the ‘Search’ tab and within search results. In September of last year, as a part of its efforts to satisfy the growing demands of both advertisers and data privacy advocates, the company rolled out an update that asks users if they would like to receive personalized ads in the App Store.

“Apple Search Ads provides opportunities for developers of all sizes to grow their business,” a company spokesperson told 9to5Mac. “Like our other advertising offerings, these new ad placements are built upon the same foundation — they will only contain content from apps’ approved App Store product pages, and will adhere to the same rigorous privacy standards.”

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Industry experts are responding to the news with careful consideration of the upsides and potential drawbacks.

For one, the benefits for advertisers are clear. “It’s giving advertisers more opportunities for high-volume brand awareness in a premium environment,” says Tom Telford, president of digital marketing at PR agency Clarity. “With brands, agencies, and advertisers often struggling with attribution, this gives app-based companies a chance to advertise for broader awareness to an engaged audience, in addition to the usual keyphrase-triggered advertisements. This is highly attributable for brands looking to grow downloads or who have apps at the heart of broader marketing campaigns.”

Telford suggests that the move is an expansion of Apple’s broader ad strategy — the company has for a number of years been developing new pathways for cashing in on its data and premium ad inventory. This, he says, is simply “another method of taking the millions of interactions it has with consumers and monetizing.”

And while Apple is sure to be a winner when it comes to the changes, some experts say the move is symbolic of the company’s efforts to position its technology as privacy-conscious while also providing brands with the ad opportunities they demand. "Apple has an internal struggle in certain business units around advertising,” says Paul Roberts, the chief executive and founder at adtech firm Kubient. “The overall company stance is privacy-first, but they have an advertiser demand that represents revenue growth that they need.”

Others may see the decision to roll out new ad placements in conflict with the company’s purported privacy stance. “Consumers have been conditioned to expect digital advertisers to be rife with cookies and other trackers, which makes Apple’s intent to increase the volume of ad placements within its ecosystem a veritable tightrope of expectations,” says Jeff Stuart, product engagement manager at Adswerve. “Some might see this announcement flying in the face of Apple's privacy-dominated narrative that it’s been pushing for the last several quarters across connected TV and social media. Consumers may wonder how they reconcile any support for Apple’s recent privacy and tracking preventative approach to hardware and software while seeing a demonstrable uptick in the amount of ad placements they see within Apple’s properties.”

Roberts, for his part, predicts that the new ad units could be a sort of experiment Apple is running to see if it can strike the right balance. “This is a ‘dip your toe in the water’ move by the App Store to see overall feedback from both the user audience as well as the brands.”

Industry players also point out that there are limitations to the new placements. For one, the lack of targeting capabilities for ads on app pages complicate media measurement and could potentially hamper performance. At the same time, Clarity’s Telford notes, the limited inventory — paired with Apple’s audience base — could price out challenger brands, startups and marketers with smaller ad budgets who may not be able to outbid larger competitors.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment.

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