Advertising is one beast that Apple hasn’t really been able to tame as it’s grown its tech empire.
Now it’s about to borrow a technique first pioneered online by the likes of Buzzfeed and Upworthy: native in-feed posts, advertorial in old media terms, within its aggregated News app that look much like other content.
Native ads are often an attempt to make your experience less annoying, but have sometimes been accused of being misleading to users, as Buzzfeed found in an advertising standards ruling in the UK in January.
Although the new units need to say that they are sponsored, they do not need to say what company they’re sponsored by, which could bring Apple into conflict with consumer watchdog groups if it’s found they are not clearly identified as ads.
They will also take the same font and design as regular content, which will give a standardized look to a format that previously relied on publishers to make clear the difference.
There are still plenty other ad formats displayed in News for you to keep your fat thumbs from clicking on. Apple disbanded its in-house iAd team in January, but that was just in a bid to offer automated advertising sales that publishers could help themselves to.
Of course, this is all likely building to the day that Apple helps publishers offer subscription content through the app, something it was rumored to be gearing towards at the start of this year and we could see outlined in the March 21 event.
Figures from the company claimed 40 million people read Apple News in October, but as it comes pre-loaded on handsets, many were concerned this may not be entirely accurate.
It’s unlikely that new ad formats will make more people flock to the app, so the company may be planning a marketing campaign in a bid to make its aggregated news service more visible and its ads worth buying.