When Steve Jobs said something was going to happen, it generally did. One notable exception, though, has been Apple’s mobile advertising platform, iAd. Jobs said back in 2010 that it would grab 50% of the mobile ad market; right now, it’s sitting at just 2.6%. That may be about to change after advertising middleman Rubicon announced that automated purchasing of iAds will soon be supported … 

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The ad business has long criticized Apple for its “slow, cocky and downright stingy” approach to selling advertising, forcing companies to buy ad slots direct from Apple. Google and Facebook both allow advertisers to place competitive bids for ads which are processed immediately and automatically – something Rubicon says will now be possible with iAds.

The ad network does appear to have jumped the gun in announcing the change, posting and then deleting a press release – but Business Insider pointed us to a cached copy.

Rubicon Project, a leader in advertising automation with one of the industry’s largest independent real-time trading platforms for the buying and selling of advertising, today announced that it had been selected by Apple to help power iAd’s adoption of automated advertising for Apple iAd’s 250,000+ mobile developers […]

Apple’s iAd provides 400+ targeting options to advertisers, based on hundreds of millions of validated iTunes accounts worldwide. This rich first party data asset makes it easy for buyers to target the specific mobile audiences of their choice, be that moms, business travelers, golfers, opera fans, etc.

Apple has been gradually stepping up its efforts to turn its iAd platform into a more serious option for advertisers, offering new formats and boosting its reach from just 16 countries up until October to 95 countries today.

More controversially, it is reportedly adding the ability to track what users do inside certain apps to present more targeted advertising – though it should be noted that this is nothing more sinister than essentially extending browser cookies to apps.

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