Apple Allegedly Buys Ads for Subscription-Based Apps to Collect More Commission [Updated]

Update: Apple has now said that the suggestion that it "secretly" or "quietly" buys ads for third-party apps is a mischaracterization. The company says that it regularly communicates with developers about the ads it runs on their behalf. See Apple's full clarification for more information.



Apple allegedly buys Google ads for popular subscription-based third-party apps to bolster its collection of commission on in-app purchases, according to an article by Forbes.

app store blue banner
Apple has purportedly been buying Google ads for subscription-based third-party apps, including HBO, Masterclass, Babbel, Tinder, Plenty of Fish, and Bumble, for at least two years. A marketer speaking to Forbes suggested that many of the brands Apple appears to be advertising for have been assertive about attempting to circumvent App Store policies. The ads are said to be placed without the developer's consent and Google apparently refuses to remove them.

The ads do not disclose that they are paid for by Apple, but redirect to the ‌App Store‌ rather than subscription sign-up pages on the brand's website. One source, speaking to Forbes, explained:

Apple is trying maximize the money they're making by driving in-app purchases that people buy through the Apple Store. Apple has figured out that they can make more money off these developers if they push people to the App Store to purchase there versus a web flow.

Ads encouraging users to subscribe to a service usually lead to pages that encourage users to sign up online, bypassing Apple's 15 or 30 percent in-app purchase fee and allowing the business to collect all of the subscription's revenue.

Google claims that it is not responsible for who buys ads on its platform. Google's ad policies allow companies to use another company's trademark if "primarily dedicated to selling (or clearly facilitating the sale of) products or services, components, replacement parts, or compatible products or services corresponding to the trademark."

There are apparently indications that Apple is hiring a single agency to place the ads since they each have "similar tracking links with near-identical parameters."

Forbes speculates that Apple's unsolicited ads are potentially losing some third-party apps millions of dollars in revenue and resulting in high customer acquisition and advertising costs for their own campaigns, since prices rise when multiple parties bid on the same ad slots. The practice amounts to "a form of ad arbitrage," according to Forbes.

Top Rated Comments

gigatoaster Avatar
12 months ago
Incoming PR from Apple: but but we have given foods on the plate to 6 billions developers and we are saving the world. ?‍♂️
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wildkraut Avatar
12 months ago
More food for the antitrust authorities.

Well done Apple, good that your shady tactics are slowly showing up.
Not a single week without negative Apple news.
Yeah yeah, but privacy and does nobody care for the children?! ?
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
m.x Avatar
12 months ago
I [S]love[/S] admire Apple very much and I adore my new 14" MBP, but my god are they greedy with the App Store. It's like these are two different companies, on one side there are these amazing devices and on the other side there's abysmal treatment of developers and this penny-pinching - just to name a few things. In his recent The Talk Show episode, John Gruber quoted a friend of his with a quote which is so true: "Apple does one thing great: they make creative tools for people and sell them at a fair price that people will pay for it and everything else they do is - it ruins the good part of Apple. Everything else. It's corrupting.". I really would love to see them stepping back from the greed and their addiction to App Store revenue, but I think the only way they learn is when there is intervention from the outside.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
DummyFool Avatar
12 months ago
A big tech company using shady tactics, what a surprise!
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Wildkraut Avatar
12 months ago

I love Apple very much and I adore my new 14" MBP, but my god are they greedy with the App Store. It's like these are two different companies, on one side there are these amazing devices and on the other side there's abysmal treatment of developers and this penny-pinching - just to name a few things. In his recent The Talk Show episode, John Gruber quoted a friend of his with a quote which is so true: "Apple does one thing great: they make creative tools for people and sell them at a fair price that people will pay for it and everything else they do is - it ruins the good part of Apple. Everything else. It's corrupting.". I really would love to see them stepping back from the greed and their addiction to App Store revenue, but I think the only way they learn is when there is intervention from the outside.
I love my wife, my children and the rest my family, but would never love a company.
You know it's a one sided love, right? Okay they love your wallet, that's it! :)
Score: 19 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ? Avatar
12 months ago
Isn't this shady or what?
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Related Stories

masterclass

MasterClass Adds Support for Apple's FaceTime SharePlay Feature

Tuesday December 14, 2021 1:24 pm PST by
Third-party apps are continuing to adopt support for Apple's SharePlay FaceTime feature on iOS devices and Macs, and as of this week, MasterClass is offering SharePlay integration. For those unfamiliar with MasterClass, it is an online subscription platform that provides tutorials and lectures from a range of people considered to be experts in their fields, including best-selling authors,...
european parliament

EU Provisionally Agrees on Law That Would Force Apple to Allow Alternative App Stores, Sideloading, and iMessage Interoperability

Friday March 25, 2022 4:46 am PDT by
European lawmakers have provisionally agreed upon a new law that would force Apple to allow user access to third-party app stores and permit the sideloading of apps on iPhones and iPads, among other sweeping changes designed to make the digital sector fairer and more competitive. The European Council and European Parliament said on Friday they had reached a political agreement on the...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Illinois Floats Bill That Would Let Developers Skirt Apple's In-App Purchase Rules

Wednesday January 19, 2022 4:09 pm PST by
Illinois is the latest state to attempt to pass legislation that would prevent developers from being required to use Apple's in-app purchase options by allowing for alternate payment solutions within apps. As outlined by Illinois news site WGEM, under the Freedom to Describe Directly Act, distribution platforms like the App Store and Google Play would not be able to force Illinois developers ...
iOS App Store General Feature JoeBlue

Dutch Regulators to Meet With Dating App Providers to Assess Apple's Plan for Alternate In-App Payment Options

Monday January 17, 2022 9:55 am PST by
The Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) in the Netherlands plans to assess Apple's announced plans for allowing dating apps on the App Store in the country to use third-party payment methods, ensuring those plans "meet the requirements" of a previous ruling. Over the weekend, Apple announced that it would exclusively allow dating apps on the App Store in the Netherlands to use...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Indie Developer Dogged By Scammy Clone Apps Again Highlights the Holes in Apple's App Store Review Process

Monday February 21, 2022 9:29 am PST by
Apps that copy concepts and features from other apps are nothing new in the ‌App Store‌, but scammy like-for-like clones of genuine apps remain a perennial problem that Apple still hasn't resolved, as indie developer Kevin Archer recently discovered. Archer is responsible for 2Stable's Authenticator App, a feature-rich app that stores and generates secure two-factor authentication tokens...
iOS App Store General Feature Dock

Dutch Regulator Says Apple's Plan for Third-Party In-App Payments is Insufficient, Fines Apple 5 Million Euros

Monday January 24, 2022 6:33 am PST by
The Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) has ruled that Apple's plan to allow App Store dating apps to use third-party payment methods for in-app purchases does not sufficiently meet the requirements of a previous ruling. As a result, the ACM has hit Apple with an initial 5 million euro fine as a consequence, and fines will continue to be assessed at 5 million euros per week up to a...
General App Store South Korea Feature Feature

Apple's Proposal to Allow Third-Party Payment Methods in App Store 'Lacks Detail,' Says South Korean Regulatory Commission

Thursday February 3, 2022 2:36 am PST by
Apple's plans to allow developers to use third-party alternative payments methods within their apps in South Korea "lacks concrete detail," according to South Korea's Communications Commission (KCC). In August, South Korea passed a law that bans app store operators from requiring developers to use their in-app purchase systems. Last month, Apple submitted its compliance plans to the KCC that ...
app store blue banner

New U.S. Antitrust Bill Would Require Apple and Google to Allow Third-Party App Stores and Sideloading

Wednesday August 11, 2021 12:17 pm PDT by
New bipartisan antitrust legislation that targets Apple's App Store and Google's Play Store was today introduced by U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal, Marsha Blackburn, and Amy Klobuchar. The Open App Markets Act [PDF] is meant to create "fair, clear, and enforceable rules" that will protect competition and strengthen consumer protections. According to the three senators, Apple and Google...

Popular Stories

ipad pro m1 feature

Gurman: Apple Event This October Remains Unlikely, No Touch ID for iPhone 15

Sunday October 2, 2022 6:41 am PDT by
Apple is developing new iPad Pro, Mac, and Apple TV models, and at least some of these products will be released in October, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. However, Gurman continues to believe that Apple is unlikely to hold an event this month. In the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Gurman said "the big iPhone 14 unveiling last month was probably it for Apple in 2022 in...
maxresdefault

Apple Responds to Video Testing Crash Detection Feature With Junkyard Vehicles

Friday September 30, 2022 9:11 am PDT by
The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern recently traveled to Michigan to test Apple's new crash detection feature on the iPhone 14 and Apple Watch Ultra. In response, Apple provided some additional information about how the feature works. Stern recruited Michael Barabe to crash his demolition derby car with a heavy-duty steel frame into two unoccupied vehicles parked in a junkyard — a 2003...
Hero0005

Best Apple Deals of the Week: M2 MacBook Air Hits New All-Time Low Price at $1,049, Plus Sales on AirPods Pro and More

Friday September 30, 2022 9:05 am PDT by
This week's best Apple deals focus on the AirPods Pro, AirPods Pro 2, and M2 MacBook Air, including numerous all-time low prices on these devices. You'll also find up to 50 percent off discounts on Anker and Eufy accessories on Amazon. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us...
Apple SIM Card

Apple SIM No Longer Available for Activating New Cellular Data Plans on iPads

Sunday October 2, 2022 8:04 am PDT by
As of October 1, Apple SIM is no longer available for activating new cellular data plans on supported iPad models, according to an Apple support document. Introduced in 2014, the Apple SIM was designed to allow iPad users to activate cellular data plans from multiple carriers around the world. Initially, the Apple SIM was a physical nano-SIM card, but it was embedded inside later iPad Pro...
iphone 14 pro max vs 13 max 2

Camera Comparison: iPhone 14 Pro Max vs. iPhone 13 Pro Max

Thursday September 29, 2022 7:44 am PDT by
The iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max introduce some major improvements in camera technology, adding a 48-megapixel lens and low-light improvements across all lenses with the new Photonic Engine. We've spent the last week working on an in-depth comparison that pits the new iPhone 14 Pro Max against the prior-generation iPhone 13 Pro Max to see just how much better the iPhone 14 Pro Max can be. Subscrib ...
iOS 16 Wallpaper Spectrum Feature

Five Wallpaper Apps to Check Out for iOS 16's New Lock Screen Depth Effect

Thursday September 29, 2022 9:08 am PDT by
One of the biggest new features in iOS 16 is a completely redesigned iPhone Lock Screen. The new Lock Screen is entirely customizable, letting you change the colors and fonts, add widgets and new wallpapers, and more to make your iPhone uniquely yours. Of course, even before iOS 16, you could customize your Lock Screen with a wallpaper of your choice. iOS 16 takes the Lock Screen wallpaper...
top stories 1oct2022

Top Stories: Stage Manager Expands to Older iPad Pro Models, No October Apple Event?

Saturday October 1, 2022 6:00 am PDT by
While we had been expecting a follow-up October Apple event focused on Mac and iPad announcements, it sounds like we might not be getting another event after all. Instead, the pending updates in those product segments could be considered minor enough that they may be announced via press releases. It wasn't all bad news, however, with Apple announcing that it will be expanding an on-device...
iOS 16

Apple Preparing iOS 16.0.3 With More Bug Fixes Following iPhone 14 Launch

Monday October 3, 2022 7:53 am PDT by
iOS 16.0.2 was released last month with several bug fixes for iPhone 14 issues, excessive copy and paste permission prompts, and more. Now, evidence suggests that Apple is planning to release iOS 16.0.3 with additional bug fixes. Evidence of an upcoming iOS 16.0.3 software update has shown up in MacRumors analytics logs, which have been a reliable indicator in the past. There are several...
dynamic island alan dye

Apple Executives Talk About iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island in New Interview

Sunday October 2, 2022 10:48 am PDT by
In a new interview, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi, and Apple's vice president of human interface design, Alan Dye, sat down to discuss the thinking behind the iPhone 14 Pro's Dynamic Island and how it was developed. During the interview with the Japanese magazine Axis, Federighi, who oversees the development of iOS, said Dynamic Island represents the...