The Dark Side Of The Apple

Adweek recently reported that Apple is building a real-time bidding (RTB) platform to sell ads via iAds, but the specifics of such an exchange were not revealed. 

Adweek wrote, “It’s not clear whether the new Apple exchange will be limited to mobile, because it could sell real-time iAds across devices -- or even through Apple TV,” citing an insider familiar with iAds.

Reading between the lines, I see a company that supplies multiple media devices and services -- Apple TV, iTunes Radio, phones, computers, etc. -- all with a single login. A company like that can ditch cookie-tracking methods because the consumer is trackable on all -- or most, at least -- of their devices simply by being logged in.

Could this create the “walled gardens” Dave Helmreich, Neustar’s vice president of media and advertising, warned against just a couple of weeks ago?

Helmreich said then, “…[I]f the major player…aggressively pursue and deploy those cookie alternatives, proverbial ‘walled gardens’ will be created. Without solid, clear and actionable measurement, this could spell big trouble for brands and agencies.

“They’ll have to create separate campaigns with separate tools and separate capabilities. Without measurement, we could be brought back to the dark ages of digital advertising, when you had to buy direct from publishers and there were absolutely no accurate ways to measure success," he added.

I’m not predicting the “dark ages” will come again -- heck, the Adweek story notes that the new Apple exchange could be limited to mobile, and if the report is accurate in that Apple wants to focus entirely on iTunes Radio, it probably will be limited to mobile, at least at first. But Apple certainly qualifies as a "major player," and it has the means to be more than a mobile-only exchange if it wishes.

So this development is worth keeping an eye on, especially if Pandora -- the company Apple is trying to emulate with iTunes Radio -- reacts. This move, and any subsequent reactions from industry players, could very well shape how programmatic media-buying is done outside of online display.

"Apple" photo from Shutterstock.

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