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Apple’s ad business on the rise- a year after upgrading privacy features

Apple's ad business

Recently, reports have come in that Apple’s ad business is growing fast and that it is also rapidly increasing its workforce in the department. According to data from InMobi’s Appsumer, Apple’s Search Ads business has joined the Facebook-Google advertising duopoly at the top table of advertiser adoption.

According to Mobile App Advertising Benchmark Report,  Apple’s Search Ads business grew adoption rate grew by 4% to reach 94.8% year-over-year, while Facebook’s adoption dropped 3% to 82.8%. Google’s rate declined 2 points to 94.8%. In its earning reports released in January 2022, Apple revealed that its services business, which includes advertising and subscription revenues, grew 24% year over year last quarter to a record $19.5 billion. A research group has also suggested that Apple’s ad business could be worth $30B a year by 2026

Around 18 months back, when Apple rolled out iOS 14.5, it had a privacy feature that allowed iPhone and iPad users to opt out of letting apps like Facebook track their activity on their devices. The feature- App Tracking Transparency then reached mass adoption in June 2021 and crippled Facebook’s ability to track users by asking people to opt-in to tracking via the identifier for advertisers (IDFA).

Due to this, Facebook could lose over $12 billion as a result. Not only this, after almost a year after these changes, Facebook’s parent company, Meta, reported its first year-over-year decline in quarterly revenue since it went public in 2012.

Apple’s ad business

Meanwhile, according to a Financial Times report, Apple has quadrupled its hiring rate since 2020. “Apple plans to nearly double the workforce in its fast-growing digital advertising business less than 18 months after it introduced sweeping privacy changes that hobbled its bigger rivals in the lucrative industry. The iPhone maker has about 250 people on its ad platforms team, according to LinkedIn. According to Apple’s careers website, it is looking to fill another 216 such roles, almost quadruple the 56 it was hiring in late 2020. Apple disputed the figures but declined to elaborate,” reads an excerpt from the report.

If we talk about the overall app developer spend on online advertising, referred to as share of wallet, Google remains at the top, with 34%. Facebook is second at 28%, followed by Apple at 15%.

Speculations suggest that Apple is considering to launch of its own DSP (demand-side platform), which will pave a way for the company to increase its Search Ads’ share-of-wallet further by leveraging its first-party data for targeting and measurement. Recently, the tech firm also expanded its App Store ads from Search to also include listing on the Today tab and also to individual app pages as it gives it more ad slots to sell.

Tech giants like Facebook and Google treat users’ data just like a currency, which is often criticized by advocacy groups for infringing users’ privacy. Even as publishers and advertisers struggle with ATT privacy changes, Apple’s ad business is gaining momentum.

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