Apple Prepares to Core, Halve, and Quarter the Zuckbook

September 21, 2022

Last year Apple smugly changed its privacy policy so iOS users now choose whether to allow their Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) to be tracked. Naturally, most say no. This is an expensive problem for Meta, which has historically made a lot of money targeting users via their IDFA on Facebook and Instagram. Now Apple is preparing another blow to its rival, according to MarketWatch‘s piece, “Apple Already Decimated Meta’s Ad-Tech Empire. Now, It’s Homing In on Facebook’s Advertisers, Too.” Reporter Shoshana Wodinsky points to a pair of virtual help-wanted signs to support her assertion:

“MarketWatch found two recent job postings by Apple that suggest the company is looking to build out its burgeoning ad-tech team with folks who specialize in working with small businesses. Specifically, the company says it’s looking for two product managers who are ‘inspired to make a difference in how digital advertising will work in a privacy-centric world’ and who want to ‘design and build consumer advertising experiences.’ An ideal candidate, Apple said, won’t only be savvy in advertising and mobile tech, and advertising on mobile tech, but will also have experience with ‘performance marketing, local ads or enabling small businesses.’ The listings also state that Apple’s looking for a manager who can ‘drive multi-year strategy and execution,’ which suggests that Apple isn’t just tailing local advertisers but will likely be tailing those advertisers for a while. And considering how some of those small brands are already looking to jump ship from Facebook following Apple’s privacy changes, luring them off the platform might be enough to hamper Meta’s entire business structure for good, ad-tech analysts said.”

If true, this move is the second jab in a one-two punch for advertisers. Cutting off their IDFA-based user data is believed to have hurt small businesses—not just the many that advertised on Facebook, but those advertising on other platforms too, from Google to Pinterest. This left the door wide open for Apple to come sauntering to the rescue—after creating the problem in the first place. Many advertisers will surely accept the deliverance anyway; Facebook has conditioned them to tolerate the whims of a digital despot as inescapable, however detrimental they may be.

Analyst Eric Seufert suspects Apple’s moves are about more than money. He tells Wodinsky:

“I think the revenue piece [of the ad market] is less important to Apple than just breaking up Facebook’s total ownership of distribution on mobile. Ads are a revenue opportunity, but, more importantly, they’re a discovery mechanic. And suddenly Facebook was determining which apps got downloaded, not Apple. My sense with all this is that they care about the revenue, but I don’t think that was the primary driver. I think it was about the power.”

Ah yes, a good old power struggle. With advertisers large and small playing the pawns. Who will come out on top? Well, A is for Apple and Z is for … losers?

Cynthia Murrell, September 21, 2022

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