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Apple Secretly Buying Ads for Subscription Apps: Report

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Apple is reportedly purchasing ads for subscription apps. Major third-party developers have accused the iPhone maker of attempting to draw users away from their services and attract them to Apple’s very own App Store.

Some developers believe Apple is costing them millions in revenue by secretly purchasing ads for apps with higher subscription options. Forbes reports that the ads are being used and created to attract users directly to the App Store. This would therefore encourage users to use the App Store, securing Apple’s 15-30 percent cut as a result.

Apple is secretly buying Google ads for high-value apps to collect potentially millions of dollars in subscription revenue, multiple app publishers have told me. Apple is placing the ads without the app developers’ consent, and Google won’t delete them, they say.

It’s said that the impacted apps affected include Babbel, Bumble, HBO, Masterclass, Plenty of Fish, and Tinder. Each of these apps is considered to have higher subscription options on the App Store. This would make for a lucrative venture for Apple when its App Store tax is worked into the conversation.

“Apple is trying maximize the money they’re making by driving in-app purchases that people buy through the Apple Store,” one source, who asked not to be named for fear of retaliation, told me.

“Apple has figured out that they can make more money off these developers if they push people to the App Store to purchase there versus a web flow.”

Although users may still purchase their subscription through a web browser, outside of the App Store, additional ad space may draw a large number of users to install said app from Apple’s marketplace instead. On top of the direct effects from the App Store, the report also notes that Apple is creating unwarranted competition for ads, driving the cost up on websites those third-party developers advertise on.

Developers have also stated that when a user purchases a subscription through the App Store, Apple’s policies dictate that a certain amount of private information is withheld from the developers. Therefore, it may be more difficult to provide customer service to users who purchased a subscription through Apple than by other means.

Apple has not yet made a comment on the matter at the time of writing.

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