- Apple added Bidalgo, a provider of mobile ad automation for app marketers, as a campaign management partner for Apple Search Ads that are used to promote apps in the App Store. The development of the partner program suggests that Apple's ad platform resembles Facebook Marketing Partners (FMP), Ad Age reported.
- Apple now has four mobile measurement partners — Branch, Kochava, Adjust and Appsflyer — and two campaign management partners, Bidalgo and Kenshoo. The search ads appear at the top of the App Store screen after a viewer enters a search term, making them highly visible to Apple's customers.
- Facebook and Google provide a better return on ad spend than Apple does for app installs, according to data from mobile measurement company Singular cited by Ad Age. However, Apple is more protective of consumer privacy, which limits the targeting ability of its ads.
Before adding Bidalgo to its partner page, Apple only showed providers of mobile measurement tools to measure, analyze and optimize app install campaigns. Apple is essentially endorsing Bidalgo as a qualified vendor for buying search ads through automation, as Ad Age notes. Facebook's FMP has approved dozens of third-party vendors for campaign management, community management, messaging, offline conversions and lead ads, among other services.
Apple Search Ads occupy a precious piece of real estate on mobile screens, giving app marketers a chance to reach self-selecting audiences based on their searches in the App Store. That means a ride-hailing company like Lyft can buy an ad that appears atop search results for terms like "Uber" or "ride sharing" to reach a highly targeted audience. By expanding the number of approved campaign management and measurement partners, Apple can appeal to a broader range of app marketers that depend on third-party services to help run their campaigns.
The expansion of Apple Search Ads Partners is another sign that Apple intends to boost its services business as iPhone sales slow. Sales of App Store Search Ads may quadruple to $2 billion by next year from $500 million in 2018, Toni Sacconaghi, an analyst at Bernstein, estimated in October. Boosting ad sales has become a bigger priority for Apple, which shut down its iAd App Network in 2016 to focus on app install ads that are a big source of revenue for competitors like Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and Yahoo, per Adweek. The app advertising market overall is forecast to surge 136% to $64.1 billion in 2020 from $27.1 billion in 2017, according to a study by an AppsFlyer study predicts.
As part of its efforts to support the marketing efforts of app developers, Apple plans to let apps with auto-renewable subscriptions offer discounted prices to existing or lapsed subscribers. The change will mean that app makers can broaden their range of promotional activity to maintain subscriptions, which are an important source of ongoing revenue and help to support other businesses like in-app advertising and in-app sales.