The Big Story: The Mobile Consolidation Paradox

The Big Story podcast

Mobile advertising companies are being snapped up at eye-popping valuations. But wait … isn’t Apple torpedoing the ability to target and measure app advertising with its AppTrackingTransparency framework, SKAdNetwork and other privacy-focused policies?

We untangle that contradiction on this week’s episode of The Big Story, where the editorial team is joined by special guest John Koetsier, a multi-hyphenate who hosts the podcast and video series TechFirst, writes for Forbes and does his fair share of angel investing.

One theme of mobile consolidation seems to be the “buffet” approach, whereby companies bring together gaming studios, ad tech, measurement and other mobile players into one entity. AppLovin is the poster child for this trend with its $1 billion purchase of MoPub from Twitter at the beginning of October – just one of the many times it’s opened its wallet in recent years.

AppLovin has also been pursuing first-party relationships with users through acquisitions (see Machine Zone) and investments in mobile gaming studios. And it’s not the only one – ironSource also has its own gaming studio, Supersonic. Seems like first-party relationships matter more when privacy is paramount.

Then there’s Apple itself. Selling a privacy-first phone is good for Apple’s hardware business, but it’s also good for its advertising business. Since implementing privacy protocols for iOS 14+, Apple’s search ads are taking credit for more than half of all app installs, according to data from mobile measurement firm Branch that was recently featured in a much-discussed Financial Times article.

But Branch’s data tracks attribution, not spend – and we all know marketers optimize toward places that drive results, making Apple’s fast-growing search ads business a surefire place to put performance ad dollars. Antitrust, though, anyone?

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