Apple to Replace its iAd Sales Team with a New Automated System

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According to BuzzFeed News, Apple is getting ready to replace its in-house iAd sales team with a new, publisher-driven automated system, six years after it launched its advertising platform. Citing multiple sources familiar with the company’s plans, the source claims that Apple is getting out of the advertising-sales business and shifting to a more automated platform.

While iAd itself isn’t going anywhere, Apple’s direct involvement in the selling and creation of iAd units is ending. “It’s just not something we’re good at,” one source told BuzzFeed News. And so Apple is leaving the creation, selling, and management of iAds to the folks who do it best: the publishers.

Apple is phasing out its iAd sales force entirely and updating the iAds platform so that publishers can sell through it directly. And publishers who do so will keep 100% of the revenue they generate. It’s not clear what this means for Rubicon Project, MediaMath, and the other ad tech companies that had been overseeing programmatic, or automated, demand-side ad buying on the platform, but it doesn’t look good.

The report says that big publishing groups may just “fold programmatic buys into the stuff they’re selling across all their properties”. iAd sales team members will be offered buyouts and released into the wild and that the move is coming “as early as this week”. As for publishers, it may actually be a good thing. “It gives publishers direct dialogue with their customers as opposed to forcing them to go through an Apple middleman. Access will be more plentiful and easier to manage”, explained one source.

EMarketer’s advertising data for 2015 shows that iAd’s share of mobile display advertising revenue was just 5.1%, while Facebook claimed 37.9% and Google 9.5%.

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