Earlier this year, it was reported that Apple would be adding more adverts to its largely ad-free iPhones in a bid to triple its ad revenue to $10 billion a year. It was suggested that the likes of Maps and Apple Books would get the ad treatment in time, but it seems like Apple will be adding a few more adverts to the App Store, first.
In an email to developers seen by MacRumors (opens in new tab), the company told its app makers that more adverts would be coming to the App Store on Tuesday, October 25 in every market except China. Ads will be clearly marked with a small “Ad” logo and have a blue background to distinguish them from regular listings.
While adverts on the App Store aren’t entirely new, this takes things to a different level for developers looking to get their apps seen — or worried that knock-off alternatives can buy their way to prominence.
Previously, adverts were based on keywords typed into the search bar or via the “Suggested” section. Now they will also appear in the “Today” tab — previously reserved for hand-picked choices from editorial staff — as well as the “You Might Also Like” section at the bottom of an app’s listing.
It’s the latter of these that could prove particularly controversial for developers, as it means app makers could find links to rivals right on their app description page — albeit slightly out of the way.
“Ads appear at the top of the You Might Also Like list to users who have scrolled to the bottom of relevant product pages, actively researching apps and getting information to help them decide whether to download,” Apple explains. “Your ad can run across all relevant app categories, or you can refine the categories where it runs.”
That could end up costing app makers dearly. As developer Florian Muella put it on Twitter (opens in new tab): “It's another means of increasing the effective app tax rate, forcing developers to buy ads on their own app pages in order to avoid that others steer customers away from there.” That kind of outlay is especially difficult to justify for developers making ad-supported free apps, of course.
But if Apple is determined to ensure its ads business hits $10 billion per year, then it’s hard to see a path that doesn’t go through the extremely lucrative App Store.