Apple Expands Its Ad Business With a New App Store Ad Slot

Sarah Perez, TechCrunch:

At the same time as it’s cracking down on the advertising businesses run by rivals, Apple is introducing a new way for developers to advertise on the App Store. Previously, developers could promote their apps after users initiated a search on the App Store by targeting specific keywords. For example, if you typed in “taxi,” you might then see an ad by Uber in the top slot above the search results. The new ad slot, however, will reach users before they search. This can expose the app to a wider audience.

At first glance, it looks a little hinky for Apple to expand its advertising options just a couple of weeks after companies like Facebook spent months equating the introduction of App Tracking Transparency with harming ad-supported businesses overall. But I think this is a good example of how advertising can work in a privacy-friendly way. Check out the targeting options available to developers for these campaigns. The only available targeting that resembles tracking is displaying an ad based on whether someone has already downloaded the app, and it respects the universal tracking opt-out.

My main objection to these ads is that they are gumming up the App Store. Internal Apple emails show a strategy of making the App Store feel like Nordstrom, but the mix of crappy apps and frequent advertising are more like a yard sale. However, in those internal emails, a couple of employees pointed out that shady developers were already paying marketing companies to juice their apps’ positions in the store, so why not make it official? I see where that argument comes from; I wish the App Store was better than any of this.