In April Apple implemented their App Tracking Transparency plan, which required apps not to collect and share information about users across platforms without their permission, permission a vanishingly small percentage of users granted.
The result was that ad companies were having great difficulty targeting Apple users with relevant ads, but it turns out Apple’s own ad business was not similarly encumbered.
FT reports that Apple’s share of app-install ad business more than tripled since April, as their share of iPhone app downloads that result from clicking on an advert increased from 17% to 58% of installs.
“It’s like Apple Search Ads has gone from playing in the minor leagues to winning the World Series in the span of half a year,” said Alex Bauer, head of product marketing at Branch.
The market is expected to grow from $58bn in 2019 to $118bn in 2022.
One unnamed mobile advertising executive said Apple had “given itself a free pass” because it is “not subject to the same policy that every other ad network is”.
The parking app SpotHero said the precision with which it was possible to focus ads on users through Apple’s advertising service jarred with the company’s rhetoric around privacy.
Chris Stevens, SpotHero’s chief marketing officer, pointed to the “retargeting” tool, a service offered by Apple to let companies follow users to re-engage with them at a future date.
“Apple was unable to validate for us that Apple’s solutions are compliant with Apple’s policy,” he said. “Despite multiple requests and trying to get them to confirm that their products are compliant with their own solutions, we were unable to get there.”
Despite the clear boost to Apple as the result of their policies, Apple said its privacy features were designed to protect users. “The technologies are part of one comprehensive system designed to help developers implement safe advertising practices and protect users — not to advantage Apple.”