For the last 18 years, iTunes has been revolutionary for the music industry. That is until last week at WWDC 2019. On Monday, the first day of the conference, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced plans to kill off the landmark media player. Kind of...
In the last few weeks, there have been rumours that iTunes would be coming to an end. Apple confirmed this at its Worldwide Developers Conference. Instead of completely binning iTunes, it will now split into 3 separate apps: Apple Music, Apple TV and Podcasts.
What will happen to my iTunes library?
No need to worry about all those albums you’ve downloaded over the years; everything will be transferable to the new apps. Whilst the focus will likely aim at pushing users towards subscribing to Apple Music, users can still purchase new releases through these apps. The change will happen when Apple releases its new Catalina Operating System later this year — this OS will not support iTunes, but every song you've ever bought, ripped, uploaded or imported will already be part of Apple Music when you upgrade from your current Mac OS version to Catalina.
What does this mean for advertisers?
A separate app for downloading podcasts on iTunes could mean Apple is planning to put more focus on podcasts. With Spotify recently crowned as King of Podcasts, Apple may be looking to compete with their streaming rivals...
It is believed that revenues from podcast advertising are on their way to hit a projected $1 billion by 2021 and based on the current market, the Podcast Revenue Report has estimated that podcast ad revenue will continue to grow by 42 percent in 2019. Podcast advertising isn't a media that is currently that saturated, however, it's clear that this is a rich area with a lot of opportunities. Research by the IAB and PwC discovered that the most popular form of advertising in podcast shows were host-read ads followed by pre-produced ads, and in the UK comedy is the most popular podcast genre, followed by music, TV and film. If Apple were looking to test out ads before a wide release, we imagine this data would be a good place to start.
We all know the current opportunities available for advertisers when it comes to podcasts (pre-roll, mid-roll etc). However, unlike its competitors, Apple does not directly offer dynamic ads at the moment. Instead, podcast publishers insert advertisements to deliver location-based ads or changing ads over time. In 2015 Apple was awarded a patent for targeted personalised advertisements on podcasts. While Apple hasn’t implemented this yet - they are notorious for filing patents that are not enforced for years - the split of iTunes means we could see (or hear) more of these ads very soon.
This means Apple will be working with advertisers (and podcast hosts) on a new and improved way to reach engaged audiences. With studies showing that the insertion of pre-roll ads has no negative effect on listenership or ad revenue, the possibility of Apple expanding on this feature along with their newly launched iTunes Podcast app is highly likely. Could we see an Apple podcasting ad centre in the future, echoing their competitor's 'Spotify for Brands' platform? Only time will tell...
Other new features announced at WWDC 2019 include a “dark mode” for iOS, a separate iOS for the iPad, and “Sign in With Apple” for signing into apps using your Apple ID.
As podcasts are on course to becoming a billion dollar industry by 2021, it would be no surprise if Apple put an enhanced focus on their podcasting app. Good news for podcasters, advertisers and (especially) Apple. We can't wait to see what the future holds!