In the tech industry, ads and privacy are like the two sides of a coin and the struggle to maintain a healthy balance between the two is not also easy for the world’s largest tech company, Apple.
A new report by The Information delves into Apple’s $4 billion ad business, and its ambition and challenges to expand it. By 2025, the tech company’s ad business is expected to hit $6 billion. However, the expansion is progressing cautiously because of internal pressures.
The Cupertino tech giant strongly advocates for users’ privacy. Calling it a human right, Apple devices offer privacy features like App Tracking Transparency to prevent invasive tracking across third-party apps and websites to show targeted ads, in addition to notifying the users when apps copy information from their clipboard and access their camera and microphone.
This focus on privacy is a deterrent in the expansion of the company’s ads business.
Apple’s focus on privacy keeps its ambitions for ad business in check
According to the report, several members of Apple’s ad team expressed “apathy” over its ads business which showcases that its expansion is not merely an external image issue but a deeper internal one.
Two said that some engineers took to internal chatrooms over it, expressing fears Apple could be going too far and potentially harming the iPhone’s premium experience.
As the company prioritizes privacy, it is alleged that it is contended with the current ad business and its growth.
Internally, one person familiar with the ad business says Apple doesn’t have the same ambitions for its ad arm as Meta or Google, and it doesn’t plan to build a vast ad network beyond its ecosystem. Executives are allegedly pleased with revenue growth based on existing ad spots, and apparently don’t plan to significantly increase the number of ad spots users could encounter on devices.
However, the report also mentions that the ad team at Apple does not enjoy the same access to information and comfort as the ad team at Google does. It works with limitations.
The focus on privacy for the company does add some limitations to the effort though. The ad products team is effectively isolated from other departments, so the ad team cannot get developer details from other teams, information that is more easily shared internally in organizations like Google.