Apple “secretly buys Google Ads” for apps to boost App Store revenue, reports complaints

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A new Forbes report says Apple is “secretly” buying high-value app ads on its App Store to make money.

From the report:

Apple is secretly buying Google ads for high-value apps to potentially raise millions of dollars in subscription revenue, several app publishers told me. Apple is placing the ads without the app developers’ consent and Google will not delete them, they say.

The cost: potentially millions of dollars in lost revenue. In addition, high advertising costs for their campaigns.

Affected apps reportedly include Tinder, Bumble, and HBO, as well as Masterclass and the Babbel language app. The report states that the ads do not reveal that they are from Apple and appear to the naked eye as if they came from the brands and publishers represented, however:

The ads do not reveal that they are from Apple, and to most observers, they would simply look like ads from the brands and app publishers themselves coming straight to the App Store. However, they have similar tracking links with nearly identical parameters which indicate that an agency is likely ranking them all.

The report did not provide any conclusive evidence that Apple was behind the ads, except that similar tracking links “indicate that one agency is probably putting them all up.”

A source told the report that Apple was “trying to maximize the money they are making by driving the in-app purchases that people buy through the Apple Store” and had “realized they can earn more from these developers if they push people. to the App Store to shop there versus a web stream. “

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Several “big mobile phone brands” said the practice was hurting their businesses because customers who came through the App Store were worth 30% less. The report also states that because Apple was allegedly buying the advertisements, the companies themselves also had to pay more to advertise because this increased costs.

One marketer, however, told Forbes that “many of the brands experiencing this problem were aggressive in trying to evade App Store’s monetization policies” but that the tactic of placing ads for other companies’ products was “a little sneaky “.

The news is relevant as the issue of in-app payments continues to rage in the crosshairs of antitrust investigations and the ongoing trial of Epic Games, in which a judge has ordered Apple to stop banning developers from telling people of other ways. to pay for digital goods and including links to external payment methods.

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