What’s Happening: Apple is Building a DSP
Or rather, there are whispers that Apple is building a DSP, as the company has yet to officially announce that it is. Regardless of the official word, backchannel conversations and recent job postings are making it clear that this is a move Apple is making in earnest. It represents a bit of an about face for the tech giant, who in recent years has been making it harder for advertisers to track and measure users across its platforms and devices.
Even more interesting—this isn’t Apple’s first foray into programmatic ad tech. In 2014, Apple launched the ill-fated iAD, which was their first attempt at a programmatic ad network. The project was ultimately scrapped due to lack of transparency and low demand. That said, programmatic technology has come a long way over the past eight years, so anything Apple builds this time around is bound to pique more interest.
Questions remain as to where an Apple-owned DSP would allow advertisers to serve ads (i.e., solely across its owned and operated properties, or will they branch out to iOS apps and perhaps even third-party properties?), but in any case it should be exciting news for brands seeking more touchpoints with the large swath of Apple users.
Why it’s Important: They’re Sitting on Tons of User Data
It will be interesting to see what kind of data Apple will bring to the table, given that the company has been a leader in the privacy movement. With the release of iOS 14 in late 2020, the company significantly disrupted the digital ads industry, which in retrospect appears to have laid the groundwork for Apple to continue to build their own ads business.
Our Take: We See This as An important Opportunity to Reach Valuable Users
With the eventual deterioration of the cookie, advertisers have been on the hunt for more partnerships to grant them access to cookieless solutions. Apple’s status as a cautious and protective player in the privacy landscape, coupled with tons of first party user data, should provide a future-proofed solution for advertisers to explore. The only hitch being that this inventory is likely to go for a premium once it first opens considering Apple’s carefully maintained environments and solid privacy track record. Given its audience tends to skew higher in household income and buying power, that justification may be worthwhile for some brands looking to reach these groups. For others, a wait-and-see approach might make more sense. Just keep in mind that Apple’s launch of more affordable models like the iPhone SE 2 is expanding their market share, so there should be some interesting opportunities for value-driven brands as inventory pricing levels out.
As always, Kelly Scott Madison continually assesses emerging technology to determine the best digital marketing strategy based on a brand’s unique goals. Our programmatic experts will be monitoring this development closely and look forward to sharing more perspective as new details arise.