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Apple is exploiting features to expand its own advertising, say advertisers

Apple privacy

As advertisers complain that Apple's privacy features cut revenues for rivals but not for itself, Apple is now greatly expanding its own ad business and is on a hiring spree.

Apple has recently been reported to be cutting recruitment overall, or recruiting more selectively, and is said to have laid off all its temporary recruiting staff. Now the Financial Times says that the company is advertising for some 216 new staff to join and almost double the workforce in its advertising business.

The Financial Times says that the figure of 216 comes from Apple's own careers website. The various ads describe how people are being hired in a project that is about "redefining advertising [for a] privacy-centric world."

Most jobs are in the States, but around 27 are in Europe. Then there are 12 in China, 12 in India, 4 in Japan, and 2 in Singapore. The roles include managers, product designers, sales specialists, and data engineers.

Apple has reportedly declined to comment, but did dispute the figure of 216 roles.

David Steinberg, chief executive of Zeta Global, a marketing technology company, told the Financial Times that Apple was being both "brilliant" and "Machiavellian" in its approach to advertising and ad sales rivals.

"They could build out [their advertising business] dramatically," he said, "[and] the 'air cover' is they are protecting the consumer's privacy."

Previously, Apple's has consistently been vocal about the detriment and problems of advertising to users. Tim Cook once went so far as to say Apple won't use advertising to get more money out of users.

"The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer — if our customer was our product," he said in 2018. "We've elected not to do that."

However, it has always specifically targeted unwanted ads, or ones where marketing companies profile users by tracking them.

This is what the company's App Tracking Transparency (ATT) privacy feature was introduced to do from iOS 14 onwards. Apple's iOS was a boon for advertisers and arguably the privacy problems were originally created by Apple.

ATT has been very effective, with Facebook ultimately reporting a drop in projected revenues of $10 billion, specifically because of it.

Recently, it's been reported that Apple is working to offer more ads in its apps, and in particular within Apple Maps.

Separately, it's recently been predicted that Apple's advertising business could reach $6 billion by 2025. That's a small amount compared to the $209 billion that the Financial Times says Google's ad business earns, but it has also grown from an estimated few hundred million dollars in the late 2010s.