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Apple Looks Ready to Automate Its iAds Business

Let the iAd automation begin.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Apple appears ready to open its app advertising inventory to automated buyers.

Yesterday, ad tech company Rubicon Project published, then deleted, a press release announcing a tie-up with Apple’s iAd program. Rubicon’s announcement, spotted by Business Insider, said Apple was going to use the company “to help power iAd’s adoption of automated advertising for Apple iAd’s 250,000+ mobile developers.”

Assuming the project moves forward, it would signal Apple’s intent to get a bit more serious about its ad business. Automated or “programmatic” buying is becoming standard for digital ad buyers, and many of the rival ad companies serving ads on mobile devices –including Apple’s iOS machines — use that method. So this would bring iAd up to par with the competition.

That said, it also signals how far iAd has come from Steve Jobs’s initial conception: Back when the former Apple CEO introduced iAd back in 2010, he proclaimed that “most of this mobile advertising really sucks,” and that iAd would be different and better. Apple wanted advertisers to create novel experiences for its devices, and initially insisted on approving each ad — and charging very high rates for them.

Since then, in an effort to boost volume, Apple has gradually cut back on its requirements. But iAd has remained a “very small part” of Apple’s business, in CEO Tim Cook’s words.

Here’s the full text of Rubicon’s deleted press release, via Google cache.

Leverages Industry-Leading Direct Order Platform to Bring Premium Buyers and Brand Advertisers to 250,000+ Apple iOS Developers Worldwide

LOS ANGELES – November 18, 2014 –Rubicon Project (NYSE: RUBI), 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.

The selection brings Apple’s array of mobile apps to Rubicon Project’s industry-leading direct order automation platform, forming an open marketplace for the buying and selling of iAd inventory. This automated marketplace makes it easy for advertisers to buy audiences across Apple’s mobile app inventory via Rubicon Project’s global exchange

“We’re thrilled to have been chosen by Apple to help bring automation to iAd’s direct order business and to provide access to premium mobile buyers from around the world,” said Greg Raifman, President, Rubicon Project. “We look forward to providing buyers with access to the unprecedented audience targeting capabilities iAd brings to automated advertising.”

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.

Rubicon Project’s mobile advertising features are an essential part of its full-stack automated advertising technology platform with innovative revenue optimization features, robust brand protection and security, and flexible reporting and data insights. –

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