Ad blockers are more popular — and some would argue necessary — than ever, and while this is great for those reading on the Web, publishers and advertisers aren’t as thrilled about it. One of the methods advertisers have come up with to battle the rise of ad blockers involves ads that are embedded directly within content, often masking themselves as “real” content.
These types of ads have come to a number of services and websites recently, and Apple News is next on the list, according to a specification document aimed at developers, Business Insider reports. The specification was updated to include a new native ad banner format as well as ads that will “display directly in the content feeds, in line with News articles.”
If these ads were left entirely up to Apple, it would be an easy assumption that the ads would be low-key — the company doesn’t want to drive its customers away from Apple News. The problem, according to Kunal Gupta, CEO of advertising-tech firm Polar, is that the content that displays in the ads is up to the publisher.
“Publishers that participate in Apple News put an RSS feed into Apple News. That feed is essentially a feed of content and some of those pieces of content might be branded content,” Gupta told Business Insider. “The onus is on the publisher in that case to very clearly label and title that content.”
According to the document, the ads are meant to blend in with their surrounding articles, and are in the same font. The only intentional tip-off of their real nature is a small tag reading “sponsored” in the lower left. Publishers who don’t use the appropriate metadata to mark their sponsored content could find their Apple News access revoked.
This might not be the only way that Apple is looking to monetize Apple News. Rumors of a subscription model have been floating since the service’s launch, and in January reports surfaced that Apple was looking into adding pay walls for some publishers.