Apple has revealed plans to nearly double the workforce in its rapidly expanding digital advertising business.

The announcement came after Apple introduced broad privacy changes that hampered its larger competitors in the lucrative industry.

According to LinkedIn, the iPhone maker has around 250 people on its ad platforms team.

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Apple is now looking to fill 216 more positions in the department on its careers website, quadrupling the 56 it was hiring in late 2020.

Apple denied the figures but did not elaborate.

The digital advertising industry has been concerned about Apple’s advertising plans.

Since introducing privacy rules last year, Apple has upended the $400 billion digital advertising market, making it difficult to tailor ads to Apple’s 1 billion-plus iPhone users.

Jade Arenstein, global service lead at Incubeta, a South Africa-based marketing performance company, said:“It was really almost like a global panic.”

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Apple’s ads business is now “incredibly fast-growing”, according to a job advertisement.

It has gone from just a few hundred million dollars of revenue in the late 2010s to about $5 billion this year, according to research group Evercore ISI, which expects Apple to have a $30 billion ads business within four years.

In comparison, Google and Facebook’s 2021 advertising revenues were $209 billion and $115 billion, respectively.

Apple’s ad revenue is negligible.

But the digital ad industry is concerned that it will expand too quickly, owing in part to the establishment of rules that critics and competitors claim will give it an unfair advantage.

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Alex Austin, chief executive of AdTech group Branch said: “Building new ad systems to effectively compete with incumbents with tens of thousands of employees and 10 to 20 years of maturity would normally be an impossible task,”

“Unless you were somehow able to disadvantage those competitors on your platform.”

Apple has long been the major Big Tech outlier in terms of not engaging in “surveillance capitalism,” or the practice of providing free services to customers while profiting from their data by targeting ads at them.

In 2018, chief executive Tim Cook said: “We could make a tonne of money if we monetized our customers — if our customers were our product.

“We’ve elected not to do that.”

But with Apple twice expanding where developers can buy ads in the App Store in the past two years, and making plans to expand much further, critics see Cook undertaking a notable U-turn.

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David Steinberg, chief executive of Zeta Global, a marketing technology company, said Apple was being “Machiavellian” and “brilliant” by adopting privacy rules that forced rivals to rebuild their ad infrastructure, simultaneously creating an opening for itself to fill the void.

Apple refused to comment on its long-term plans.

However, job postings inform prospective employees that the company’s goals are nothing less than “redefining advertising” for a “privacy-centric” world.

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Apple is looking for people to fill positions such as product designers and managers, data engineers, and sales specialists.

The positions are mostly in the United States, but there are at least 27 in Europe, 12 in China, 12 in India, four in Japan, and two in Singapore.

Arenstein said: “That’s a massive team — bigger than most small businesses,” Arenstein said. “Where there is smoke, there is fire, and there is definitely some smoke here.”

Apple has never been opposed to advertising in general. In order to keep iPhone apps free, company founder Steve Jobs attempted to launch an in-app advertising business in 2010. 

Source: Financial Times

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