In his info-packed weekly Power On newsletter, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman said Apple wants to considerably boost its advertising revenue by leveraging its own apps.
Apple Maps is a particular target, according to the report, with Gurman saying Apple could enable certain businesses to pay to be at the top of listings – just like it has been doing on the App Store since 2016.
He writes: “The effort to add search ads to Apple Maps has already been explored internally. Such a feature would probably work similarly to search ads in the App Store. For instance, a Japanese restaurant could pay money to rank at the top of local listings when users searched for “sushi.” If you’ve used Yelp, you already get the idea.”
It’s a tightrope for Apple considering it has been able to distinguish itself from Google’s advertising-centric business model. While Google Maps has generally been considered the superior navigation app, those choosing Apple’s alternative have been safe in the knowledge their search results won’t be affected by who has paid to top the listings (albeit marked as such).
It’s also an ethical tightrope for Apple, which has long maintained that its business model does not depend on advertising, but hardware, services and putting the user above any other interests. It would argue, as it has for the App Store integration, that ads are not targeted and simply based upon the user’s search.
However, perception counts, and it could be damaging to Apple if it goes too heavy with this. Concurrently, Apple has done a lot of work on preventing apps like Facebook tracking users outside of those apps, which has damaged those companies’ advertising-centric model.
Gurman also says the company might bring ads to stock apps like Podcasts and Books, as well as integrating them within TV Plus in the future as it seeks to boost advertising revenue. Plenty of streaming services, like HBO Max, Netflix and Disney Plus have either embraced – or are in the process of embracing – ad-supported streaming tiers that cost a little less.
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