Is Apple the Biggest Threat to the Advertising Duopoly?

In 2021, Apple introduced App Tracking Transparency, or ATT, a new feature that allowed iPhone users to decide whether or not apps could track them across their activity on other sites or applications.

The move came during the latest wave of privacy concerns voiced by consumers who felt uneasy about the use of their data in advertising efforts.

On the surface, it appeared that Apple was merely protecting the privacy of their users' information, but there were also profound implications for the advertising industry. Perhaps the biggest loser in all of this, Facebook, was left licking its wounds as the new policy severely hampered its advertising revenue. The ad behemoth is estimated to lose $12 billion from the new privacy parameters.

Fast forward to August of this year, and Apple's policy changes seem to have been a bit more calculated as they're reportedly starting to invest heavily in the advertising branch of their business.

Apple already displays ads in its News, Stocks, and Apple Store apps, and they've recently announced its plan to increase ads in the Apple Store. They're not stopping there, though. Apparently, more iPhone native applications like Apple Maps will follow suit.


So what does this mean for agencies?

It's evident that if there's money to be had advertising to iPhone users, Apple wants to ensure they capture as many of those dollars as possible. And they're already making a pretty big dent in the market. Apple has achieved 15% of market share in mobile app ads, an impressive jump for the relatively small amount of time they've been in the space. 

Google and Facebook have long been seen as an untouchable duopoly dominating the advertising landscape. And while Apple's new push to simultaneously hinder Facebook's ad revenue while bolstering their own is undoubtedly a big move, it's going to be quite some time before advertisers need to worry about a severe shake up. 

Apple's vision for the future of its ad department is unclear, and at present, they don't have the same sort of traffic to cause a large-scale disruption.

Let's take Apple versus Google Maps, for example. Apple hasn't given official numbers but has reported hundreds of millions of monthly users, whereas Google sits at over a billion. Again, this is just for maps alone. That doesn't account for Google searches or Google-owned applications. In the case of Facebook, they have close to 3 billion monthly users.

The simple fact is that Apple's native apps don't have the same amount of traffic or users who are spending substantial amounts of time on the apps (compared to sites like Facebook) to justify sizable investment from advertisers.

None of this is to say that Apple won't someday reach the same foothold that Google and Facebook have, but for now, agencies' dollars are best spent on traditional search and social ads.

Don't miss these insights: