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Can Apple Topple Facebook?

The recent news that Apple was opening up its mobile ad network, iAd, could give Apple Pay a new edge with marketers.

A Marketing Land article examines how Apple's decision to partner with leading ad tech firms is the first step into mobile advertising, a move that could position Apple to compete with Facebook. Partners for the mobile ad network include: Accordant Media, Adelphic, AdRoll, GET IT Mobile, MediaMath, Ruicon, Tapsense, and The Trade Desk. These partnerships will allow the firms to automate ad buys through Apple APIs and work across more than 250,000 iOS apps, the article reported.

So what does that have to do with payments? Apple Pay, of course. Marketing Land talked with Benjamin Witte, AdRoll's head of mobile growth, who explained what role the payments platform could have in positioning Apple against Facebook.

"In the long term, Witte sees Apple Pay playing a role in attribution and closing the loop for marketers on the iAd platform," the article quoted Witte. "He’s also looking forward to seeing what types of attribution and analytics retailers that use Apple Pay will get access to as the payment program evolves. Witte also notes that the launch of Apple Pay has brought wider consumer and retail awareness about mobile payment capabilities generally, and Google is capitalizing on this surge in awareness to drive growth for Google Wallet. Mobile commerce could be at an inflection point, says Witte, adding that these developments are going be positive for mobile ad tech generally."

Apple opened up the iAd platform to anyone with an Apple ID, and this new partnership move with third-party ad tech firm instead of relying on its own channels puts iAd on the same path as Google, Facebook and Twitter.

“This move unlocks the user data sets that Apple has, which are on par with Facebook,” Witte said in the article. Third-parties can bring in their own data (AdRoll has purchasing data for example). “Advertisers can mesh that third-party data with Apple’s consumer data sets to get really granular targeting.”

Apple may not have been a player in native advertising before opening up its mobile ad network, but this shift may give Apple a new platform to build from — particularly when tapping into new ways to scale Apple Pay into the market. Witte said Apple's data from its in-app content and strong understanding of its user base could give Apple an advantage in competing with players like Facebook.

"This is a big reset, the first inning, if you think about all the assets they have — scale, data, apple pay — they have the potential to build a mobile ad platform that rivals the others," Witte said. "Apple is making a huge reinvestment in mobile advertising. Given the scale and unique data they have, this is only the beginning. We think we are going to see a lot more capabilities coming in the near future.”

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