It’s Official: More Ads Are Coming to Apple TV+

It’s Official: More Ads Are Coming to Apple TV+

You can look forward to more ads on Apple TV+ in the near future.

Apple has hired a long-time TV advertising executive, Lauren Fry, to create a product for showing ads in its streaming service, according to a report in The Information.

Subscribers who pay $US6.99 ($10) for Apple TV+ currently enjoy a premium, mostly ad-free experience. There’s no ad-supported tier. But ads are sneaking their way onto the streaming service one way or another, just like they’ve been showing up in more and more places across Apple’s other services. It’s an early fruition of this reporter’s predictions for privacy and your data in 2023: Apple’s advertising empire is on the rise.

Fry comes to Apple from digital video advertising company Simulmedia, and held previous ad mongering stints at Comcast and AT&T. We don’t know Fry’s job title yet, but The Information reports she will “help build a video advertising business for its Apple TV+ streaming service.”

Late last year, Apple quietly slid more ads onto your iPhone. Open the App Store, and the first thing you’ll see is the Today tab. The second thing you’ll see is an ad. That’s new, as of October, and right off the bat it was a disaster, with a flood of gambling ads, including on the pages for apps to manage gambling addiction. That’s not the only place Apple is squeaking out a few extra marketing dollars. Apple sells ads on its News, Stocks, Music, and Games apps, and you can expect to have your attention monetized a lot more in the near future.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Once, being an Apple user meant you could enjoy a platform built for the user experience above all else. Steve Jobs famously said his goal for Apple products was to make “the buttons on the screen look so good you’ll want to lick them.” Part of that ethos: “No ads,” Jobs said. “We build products that we want for ourselves, too, and we just don’t want ads.”

Well, bright-eyed CEOs pass on, and things change in their absence. Ads are inherently intrusive. They have to be if they’re going to work. They’re also lucrative. That’s a sacrifice the company is increasingly willing to make.

Apple needs new revenue streams. iPhones are getting so good that it’s hard to make them better, and a lot harder to justify upgrades. Demand for new iPhones is slowing. If the company wants its stock prices to stay high, it needs to find more money somewhere. Apple could start selling cars or something (and it might) but advertising dollars hang low. It’s already paying off: Apple makes about $US4 ($6) billion a year on ads. That’s chump change for a company valued in the trillions, but it’s still $US4 ($6) billion of chump change, and that’s just the start.

In 2021, Apple punched a giant hole in that market that it is gearing up to fill. The company introduced a privacy setting called App Tracking Transparency (ATT) That made it a lot harder for apps to track you. It particularly hurt companies who make their money tracking you across different apps and showing you targeted ads. Meta (aka Facebook) said ATT cost it $US10 ($14) billion. That means there’s a big targeted ad opportunity for *someone,* and I’ll bet you 100 ads that someone is going to be Apple.

With ever tightening privacy restrictions on iPhones, Apple is in a unique position. It knows a great deal about what you’re doing inside its walled garden, and it’s collecting your data in ways that might surprise you. One recent surprise is that the company collects analytics data, including for ads, even when you turn off the company’s own privacy setting that promises to disable the data harvest. After Gizmodo exclusively reported on the problem, the company is facing at least a dozen class-action lawsuits.