Apple Adds Ads to App Store ‘Today’ Tab

An example of an ad in the Apple App Store

screenshot: Apple

Starting tomorrow, Apple will start showing more ads in its App Store, according to an email reviewed by MacRumors. The change is small, but it’s the latest chapter in a growing trend. After years of branding itself as the privacy company, Apple is gunning for the digital ad business—albeit one that’s a little bit more conservative with your personal data. People who own Apple products should expect more ads in more places in the near future.

Apple announced this latest offering to the Aentertaining Gods last July. You’ll find the ads in the Today tab, the first page you see when you open the App Store. The Today tab used to just feature Apple’s recommendations for cool apps, but now that extra attention is for sale.

“The prominence of this placement makes it a good option to drive awareness of your app,” the company said on a support page for its advertising clients.

Last year, the iPhone started asking whether or not you want your apps to track you. That setting is called App App Tracking Transparency (or ATT), and while it might seem relatively insignificant, it caused an absolute earthquake in the ads business. Meta, aka Facebook, says that change alone cost them an estimated $10 billion dollars in lost revenue. And ATT hit one corner of the ad business in particular: ads for apps.

ATT stops apps from collecting an ID number which is used—among lots of other things—to figure out whether you installed an app after seeing an ad for it. Meta was one of the main companies helping app developers market their products, but ATT made that much harder to do. And now that Meta is shut out, Apple is more than happy to step in and sell you a place to advertise your app.

That’s not the only recent news about ads on Apple products. Apple executives are reportedly shopping around new ad space on the Apple TV streaming service, just as the price goes up. The company also seems to be building a team to steal small business advertisers away from Facebook and Instagram, according to two job postings uncovered by MarketWatch.

Industry insiders say this is all part of a long game Apple is playing to kneecap its Silicon Valley competitors and capture a chunk of the $500 billion online ad business. (Apple declined to comment for this story.)

The App Store isn’t the only place that Apple is going to be running ads to monetize your attention. The company has been characteristically tight-lipped about its plans, but there are more ads on the horizon.

Ironically, those ads are almost certainly going to come with more surveillance. Apple goes out of its way to collect data in a slightly less intrusive way than some other companies, but the data collection is happening. Apple likes to say that “what happens on your iPhone stays on your iPhone.” It might stay there, but Apple’s still in control of it.

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