Apple’s internal emails reveal discussions before launching ads on App Store

Apple’s internal emails submitted as evidence for Epic Games vs. Apple lawsuit bring forth the discussions company’s executives had before introducing ads on App Store Search.

In 2016, Apple launched App Store Search Ads and has recently introduced a new ‘Search tab campaign‘ to offer developers two prominent ad placement locations. Ad slots were added in App Store Search to diversify the company revenue streams. And in 2018, it was reported that Apple approximately earned $1 billion in revenue annually from its Search Ads business.

App Store Search


Inspired by Google, Apple executive began to explore the possibility of introducing ads in the App Store

In 2015, after Google released ads in the Play Store, Apple engineer David Neumann emailed the link of the announcement to Eric Friedman, head of Fraud Engineering Algorithms and Risk unit to express willingness to introduce a similar feature on the App Store.

Boy, I sure wish we could do this…Google now allowing ads in Google Play

I think we need a “thoughts on AppStore Discovery” essay on Where we spell out the challenges and why ads among other changes make sense.

Friedman responded that the company had considered the option and it will be another good opportunity for Apple to generate revenue.

Yes, the ability to pay for promotion would be awesome. We’ve floated it several times as the way to end chart gaming: if people are willing to pay “marketing companies” (bot nets) to gain position, why don’t we just let them pay us to gain position?

No one is willing to take that on, however. I suppose it would get pretty cheesy, but at least it would be transparently cheesy.

I’ve actually managed to convince myself that our App Store charts aren’t really a discovery tool at all. Yes, they do drive some conversions, but that is (l suspect and haven’t verified) mostly the bots and/or humans responding to incentives from promotional companies. Think about it: a chart that puts YouTube and Flight Pilot Simulator 3D in the same list isn’t useful to a human shopper. Sure, you might buy both, but that decision won’t be motivated by their popularity relative to one another.

App Store ad

The two had an in-depth discussion on the implementation of ads in the App Store Discovery section, developers’ reaction and engagement, and the need to harmonize Apple CEO Tim Cook’s narrative on monetization on the platform.

The devs would love it. The problem is that Tim is telling the world that we make great products without monetizing users. Ads would be weirdly at odds with that. I do think that search and explore are much better discovery tools. Also popularity alone is a stupid ranking function for the App Store. It’s fine for music (though fuse is about to unleash a torrent of fakery there, too).

But in the App Store I don’t only want to know what is popular. I want apps that are high quality, well looked after by engaged developers, and retained (because useful) by other users. Being popular within a category is a nice to have and should mostly correlate with the other values I described.

In the end, Friedman wrote that it will be a win situation for all, developers and the platform.

To this end, Luke has built a quality predictive model that does as well as our human editorial team in finding good apps….I think that All of our ranking functions- charts, recommendations, search, explore – should stack these models as an ensemble. This way the only way to game the system is to be an engaged developer who makes a useful, high-quality app that lots of real devices keep around. Win!

Read the complete correspondence here.

About the Author

Addicted to social media and in love with iPhone, started blogging as a hobby. And now it's my passion for every day is a new learning experience. Hopefully, manufacturers will continue to use innovative solutions and we will keep on letting you know about them.

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