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Apple Makes Aggressive Moves into Digital Advertising

Trend Report 2023: The Apple DSP looks set to rock the world of digital advertising

The following is an extract from The Bank’s Trend Report 2023, our deep dive into the events and innovations that are set to shape and characterise online advertising and digital marketing over the next 12 months.

To access the full report, along with our directory of essential tools for 2023, click here.

Part X: A DSP from the World’s Biggest Company Potentially Offers Walled Garden Access to iUsers

Apple is gaining significant momentum in the world of digital advertising, presenting a notable challenge to the established duopoly of Google and Facebook. Research by Appsumer suggests that Apple benefited substantially from the privacy initiatives it implemented in 2021, with ad-funded platforms—such as Facebook—now less able to effectively monitor iConsumers via their software.

Whilst Apple currently limits ads to its App Store (via Apple Search Ads), News, and Stocks apps (via membership in its Developer Program), it is expected to expand its offerings across its native macOS and iOS applications—starting with Maps, Books, Podcasts, and TV+—in 2023. More significantly, the company—clearly not content with the idea of serving ads exclusively within its ecosystem—is taking active steps to develop its own DSP. Apple is looking to build a “privacy-forward [and] mobile-centric” demand-side service, which—considering its industry clout and considerable coffers—could set a new standard for how we purchase digital inventory. 


Access to iConsumers

Apple currently claims a 23.4% share of the global smartphone market, with some 1 billion consumers using its iPhone. This massive audience of ABC1s are increasingly shielded from the marketing efforts of external ad networks, which continues to prove a headache for those brands that aim to reach them.

Whilst the Apple DSP may provide a handy way to access this market, if it refuses to play nicely when it comes to integration with competitor platforms, marketers may find themselves left with no choice but to participate in it fully (and—we’d predict—at significant expense).

App-Based Targeting

Campaigns that lean heavily on Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms are going to find themselves increasingly boxed off from consumers in Apple’s ecosystem (particularly as iOS requires apps to obtain explicit user permission for tracking their activity). 

The upshot? Paid social advertisers can no longer rely on individual identifiers provided by iOS devices, and should look to external opportunities for building a picture of their audience. 


Apple Search Ads / Apple Developer Program

The best defence, as they say, is a good offence. For those businesses in a position to do so, the best way to establish an early marketing foothold in the Apple environment is to start running ads through its official channels.

If you’re an app developer you’re probably well familiar with Apple Search Ads and its efficacy. For everyone else, an Apple Developer Program account will allow you to run display ads across what is likely to be an increasing number of native apps and a more firmly contained set of iOS users. 


In the words of CEO Richard Marques, at RevContent “privacy is king”. By eschewing third-party cookies in favour of 90%+ first-party demand, its native ad platform is uniquely positioned to cope with legislative privacy requirements at the browser level, and manufacturer-implemented user protection at the app level. 

It is this immunity to app-level changes that makes RevContent such an interesting prospect, as its model for serving native ads is minimally impacted by the concealment of IDFA (Identifier for Advertisers) data. By adopting a contextual approach, RevContent ads will remain compliant, and—more importantly for advertisers—visible to consumers across platforms, apps, and devices. 

We’ll be posting further extracts from the Trend Report 2023 in the coming weeks.

Can’t wait to read more? Get instant access to the full report here.

0. Executive Summary
1. The Proliferation of Incentive-Based First-Party Data Strategies
2. Fresh Solutions for Tracking and Retargeting
3. A Recalibrated Approach to Targeting and Lead Identification
4. More Innovative Methods for Contextual Targeting
5. A Greater Focus on Values-Based Marketing and Consumer Connection
6. Expanded Opportunities for Programmatic Digital Out-of-Home
7. Stronger Programmatic Pathways into Video Ads
8. Reliance on Voice Assistants Heralds a Hands-Free Future
9. Digital Planning for Real-World Implementation
10. Apple Makes Aggressive Moves into Digital Advertising
11. Global 5G Adoption Boosts Programmatic Ad Serving
12. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Do the Heavy Lifting for Planning and Creative
13. A Push for Cohesive Cross-Device and Cross-Channel Experiences
14. More Sophisticated Access to In-App Inventory
15. Stricter Adherence to the Better Ads Standards


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