Apple’s plans to prohibit companies that also own competing mobile platforms from collecting iOS app data are about more than just analytics, said Omar Hamoui, the former CEO of AdMob, appearing on stage for one of the first times since his company passed through regulatory scrutiny to be acquired by Google (where he’s now VP of mobile ads). “It’s not technically possible” to serve mobile ads without analytics, he said — disallowing AdMob from tracking clicks would render its advertising useless.
Apple, “thankfully,” has not started enforcing the policy yet, said Hamoui, speaking at MobileBeat in San Francisco today. Getting shut off Apple devices would eliminate 30 percent of AdMob’s traffic today. But publishers and advertisers are already using more caution and “asking more questions” about AdMob as a result of the rules change, he said. Apple’s rule change is also being looked at by federal regulators.
But of course there’s a backstory: that Apple tried and failed to buy AdMob, and is openly bitter about it. Hamoui said his company “did seriously consider” the Apple deal. But he said he welcomed Apple’s entrance into the mobile advertising market with its competing iAd platform earlier this month. “The Apple sheen is an important thing,” Hamoui said. “Rich, pretty ads are at the highest level getting ad agencies and brands to think about what mobile means.”
But Hamoui’s allegiance is now with Google. Asked to predict when next year Android would surpass iOS, he said June.
At Google, Hamoui now oversees existing display ad products for mobile apps and content, as well as mobile search ads. He is working on projects such as automated scalable conversion metrics — an amped up version of what Apple is disallowing. Eventually, when it’s more certain privacy can be well maintained, Google will start integrating its various ad platforms on and off of mobile, Hamoui said.
But in terms of something more radical, like Google releasing an advertising-subsized phone? That’s a long way off, in Hamoui’s opinion. “Carriers are making trillions of dollars,” he said. “Mobile advertising is barely a billion. We’re not going to make $150 over the lifetime of a phone to subsidize it.”
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