Apple likes to position itself as a champion of the people, in direct opposition to the likes of Facebook and Google that make the user the product. Those companies make billions from targeted advertising, while Apple largely steers clear, instead making its money selling premium products.
But Apple does in fact sell ads through its Apple Search Ads program, and it’s about to start showing you even more of them.
Apple’s ad business is centered around app search. For years, if you searched for something in the App Store, you’d see a relevant promoted app at the top of your search results in a paid-for ad spot. Relatively innocuous.
But starting 25th October, similar ads are spreading to other parts of the App Store. Apple’s Today tab is front and center of the user experience, and the place many people hear about quality apps, with features chosen by Apple’s editorial team. But now, developers can pay to appear there too.
Ads will also start appearing at the bottom of app product pages, mixed in with genuine recommendations from the “you might also like” section. You’ll know it’s a paid placement by the small blue “Ad” disclaimer. These apps may well be what you’re looking for, but it’s worth treating them with a touch more cynicism than apps that earned a spot there on merit.
Overall, this may not seem like a big deal, and arguably it’s a smart integration of something that can genuinely help small developers. They’re well integrated and less distracting than most ad placements, including the ones we use!
We just hope it’s not a slippery slope that ends with an bloated App Store that prioritizes paid promotions over genuine recommendations.