Apple is advancing on ads

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Apple unveiled its latest product lineup yesterday at a live event with enough fanfare to be confused for a royal wedding.

Some highlights:

  • Four new iPhones, including the iPhone 14, 14 Plus, and new Pro models that run on an advanced chip and feature fancy cameras
  • Next-gen Apple Watches with new temperature sensors (that can, controversially, help track ovulation cycles)
  • Souped-up AirPods with better noise cancellation and six hours of listening time per charge

But marginally better gadgets aren’t the growth drivers they used to be for Apple. So, with smartphone sales plateauing globally, the company is now embracing something it largely used to avoid: selling online advertising.

Helping itself

For now, Apple’s got a much smaller piece of the online ad sales pie than rivals Google and Facebook. Recently, though, it’s started carving out a bigger slice: A study released Tuesday by Appsumer found that Apple’s advertiser adoption rate rose four percentage points year over year in Q2, while Facebook’s dropped three percentage points and Google’s slipped two points.

The company plans to start showing you ads in new places, like Apple Maps, to boost ad revenue—but also it may not exactly be a coincidence that Apple’s gains in online advertising happened following its App Tracking Transparency update last year. That change limited the user-tracking data Apple made available to advertisers in the name of privacy and cost companies that depend on ad sales, like Meta and Snap, billions in revenue.

Apple is now working to nearly double the size of its advertising staff, per the Financial Times, leaving it poised to benefit from the new landscape it created.

Apple claims its own ad business is different from the others. So far, it is: Apple doesn’t allow ads that target you for visiting a competitor’s website, and it won’t tailor ads to specific individuals. Still, experts told the NYT that Apple might have to start making compromises if it really wants to grow its ad sales.