- Apple focused its social-media marketing efforts for its planned video streaming service on Twitter to reach millennials and middle-aged men. The iPhone maker only bought ads on Twitter to promote Apple TV Plus, and didn't run any paid campaigns on Facebook, YouTube or Instagram during the week after announcing the service on March 25, according to competitive intelligence platform BrandTotal.
- Apple promoted Apple TV Plus to a 61% male audience on Twitter, compared with its typical strategy of reaching women with 58% of its ads on the platform. Apple also mostly targeted young adults ages 25-34 (29% of ads) and ages 35-44 (22%), and people who are single (58%).
- All of Apple's ads on Twitter for TV Plus could only be seen by targeted audiences. Apple is one of the most active "dark marketers," per BrandTotal, referring to the practice of not broadly releasing social media ads and, instead, targeting them to clearly defined audiences.
Apple's entry into the video streaming market, Apple TV Plus, won't be available until the fall, but the company started to prepare audiences for the rollout with a splashy event on March 25. Its ad spending on Twitter indicates that Apple has identified unmarried millennial and middle-aged males as a key target for the streaming service, BrandTotal's research indicates. Subscribers to streaming services tend to be male, according to Pew Research Center, making the demographic group harder for advertisers to reach through traditional media platforms like TV and print. Video streaming leader Netflix has about 139 million subscribers worldwide, but rarely reveals information about its actual viewership.
It's interesting that Apple advertises heavily on Twitter while shunning Facebook and Google, as BrandTotal's data indicate. That suggests Apple sees the companies as competitive threats, although they also work together in other ways. Facebook is dependent on Apple to reach hundreds of millions of higher-income iPhone users, while Google pays Apple to generate traffic to its search engine. Google's payments to Apple will rise 33% to $12 billion in 2019 for the rights to be the default search engine for the Safari web browser on iPhone, iPad and Mac devices, per a forecast by Rod Hall, an analyst at Goldman Sachs. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg have traded barbs in the past year over their differing philosophies toward consumer privacy, but Facebook can't afford to alienate Apple and its user base of 1.4 billion active devices.
Apple TV Plus is part of Apple's push into services aimed at maintaining loyalty to the iPhone, whose sales have declined as consumers hold onto their smartphones for longer. Apple TV Plus is an ad-free video-subscription service that will carry original programming for a flat monthly fee. Apple will announce pricing ahead of a fall launch. In May, Apple will release an updated Apple TV app that works as a viewing hub for TV channels and video-on-demand services. The app will work on its connected devices and those of competitors including smart TV devices from Samsung, LG Electronics, Vizio, Roku, Sony and Amazon.