BlogAppleApple Search AdsApple is testing an AI-powered ad format like Performance Max

Apple is testing an AI-powered ad format like Performance Max

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It’s being reported by Lara O’Reilly at Business Insider that Apple are experimenting with a new AI-powered ad format for advertisers across it’s App Store. According to the article, Apple has begun testing with a small number of advertisers with what is effectively its own version of Performance Max. It will decide where to place your ads within the App Store either on the Search Tab, Search Results Page, ‘You Might Also Like’ ads, and on the ‘Today’ tab. So what’s happening, and what do you need to do?

What does Apple's version of Performance Max look like?

There isn’t much accessible information on what exactly this looks like yet,  and those who are in the know are most likely tied to an NDA. Any information we do have indicates that it will work very much like Google’s Performance Max. You add a budget, a target (e.g. CPA), the option to target the audiences and countries you want to reach, and that’s it. Apple will do its magic and automatically place your ads in one of the available positions in its current offering. 

What does this mean?

Apple is experimenting. Have patience before this launches more widely

We know that Apple is looking to expand its ad business significantly in the next few years. Experimenting with their own version of Performance Max will help them accelerate the learnings needed to understand if there is more opportunity to squeeze performance for advertisers out of its current ad placement offering. 

Could this lay the foundations for future testing across more Apple products?

By building their own version of Performance Max, they can also test new placements and ad types that may not exist yet. For example, there are rumours that this could expand onto Maps, Apple TV, Books or any of their other apps (maybe Podcasts?!). Could Apple look to launch new campaign types into these areas to help drive forward their ads business? I certainly think so. 

Could a Performance Max-like ad product help when Apple launches its own (rumoured) search engine?

Apple has long been rumoured to be building its own search engine to compete with the likes of Google and Microsoft. It was even recently reported to have had Microsoft trying to sell its search business to Apple, from which they declined. Given the link up with OpenAI for the new Bing, perhaps Apple missed a trick with that one. However, from a business perspective, it makes perfect sense for Apple to develop their own search engine. Currently, Apple gets commission from Google from its ad business which equates to around $8 billion a year. If Apple was able to continue to successfully build up its own ad business, whilst simultaneously launching its own search engine, it could create a killer combination. 

What do you need to do?

Experiment, if you are lucky enough to get access

If you already have access, consider yourself lucky. Make the most of this opportunity and learn everything you can. Whilst much of Performance Max is black box, you are in a unique position where you can directly feed into Apple’s product development. This surely comes with perks right? At the very least, if you are scratching their backs then they should scratch yours. Make sure you stress the importance of having access to the data points we currently don’t in Google’s Performance Max. This not only gives advertisers what they want, but can give Apple additional leverage over Google’s ad business. 

If you don't have access, hang tight. I'm sure more information will be shared soon

It’s expected to be made more widely available in the coming months. Hopefully, if advertisers see success, more will gain access to the new format and gain the benefits of launching into these new spaces first. 

There are certainly frustrations with Performance Max in Google Ads, but there is no denying that 7/10 times it will work for you and your objectives. If Apple can learn from Google’s mistakes, it can create a unique option for advertisers to move more ad dollars into its advertising products. At the same time, if it can use this to fuel more options into other apps, or indeed the development of new solutions such as its own Search Engine, then I think it’s safe to say that this is an exciting time for Apple and advertisers. 

We are looking forward to hearing what’s next here!

Dan Roberts
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