Apple is reportedly adding the ability to track what users do inside certain apps in order to present them with targeted in-app ads across iOS devices, reports digital media site Digiday.

Say, for example, a visitor to a retailer’s iPhone app adds a pair of shoes to his cart but ultimately decide not to buy it. In this scenario, the retailer will now be able to retarget that user with an ad for that exact pair — even in another app on his iPad. When tapped, the ad would direct him back to his abandoned checkout page and automatically add the shoes to his online shopping cart.

Ad agencies say that Apple has been pitching the new capability since last month …

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In-app ads haven’t been the greatest of success stories for Apple. When Steve Jobs launched the iAd platform in 2010, he said that it would go on to hit 50% of the mobile ad market; the reality is that by last year it sat at just 2.6%.

Apple isn’t just concerned for its own revenues: it’s also thinking about developers. The reason developers tend to prioritize iOS over Android when launching new apps is because the platform is more profitable. Making iAds work is key to ensuring that remains true.

While the move may raise privacy concerns, it’s worth noting that the capability does nothing more than allow mobile advertisers to do what they can already do in the desktop environment using cookies. This is indeed Apple’s pitch, says Digiday.

“One of the big limitations of not just iAd, but the entire iOS ecosystem, is that cookies don’t work,” said Eric Franchi, co-founder of cross-device ad network Undertone. […] “If Apple can bring very advanced targeting combined with e-commerce, it will be incredibly powerful.”

The capability is primarily aimed at retailers with iOS apps, who can use shopping carts, wishlists and purchase history to serve relevant ads in other apps.

iAds are now available in 25 countries after Apple added nine new countries earlier this month. The company introduced new iAd formats back in August.

Via Business Insider

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