- Apple is preparing its biggest-ever presence at the Cannes Lions advertising festival.
- It’s booked a dedicated space at the iconic Carlton hotel for meetings and panels.
- Industry speculation is growing that Apple is preparing a big ads announcement at WWDC.
Apple usually plays it so low-key at big industry events, you wouldn’t even know the company had attended.
Its delegation at conferences and expos have been known to turn around their lanyards so passers-by can’t read their name or company on their badges.
But at this year’s Cannes Lions festival, the ad industry’s annual boondoggle on the south Riviera which begins on June 19, Apple is planning to make a big splash highly visible to attendees. It has rented a space at the top of the iconic Carlton hotel, situated on the busy Croisette promenade, according to multiple advertising industry sources.
There, Apple execs will host meetings, lunches, and drinks events. It’s also planning a week of programming, with panel topics expected to include sports on Apple TV+, Apple News, apps, and the broadening Apple advertising offering, those sources said.
Apple didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Apple execs have presented on the main stage at Cannes before to discuss Apple’s perspective as a marketer. But its increased presence this year comes at a time when the stakes for Apple as an ad seller have never been higher. The company is expected to ramp up its advertising revenue as it looks to expand its services businesses — which brought in $21 billion in the first three months of the year.
It has already invested heavily toward creating a robust ad sales business. As Insider previously reported, Apple is currently building a demand-side platform, software that would allow advertisers to purchase ads across a range of its ads and services using automation. It also began selling ads and sponsorship packages within its exclusive broadcasts of Major League Soccer this year.
But Apple faces significant hurdles in capturing ad dollars, as competitors like YouTube, Disney, and Netflix are also ramping up streaming TV ad businesses and are actively courting advertisers. Apple must overcome some distinct disadvantages.
Sasha Auzins, cofounder of marketing technology consultancy Elaboration, said that in order to win over marketers, Apple’s advertising executives will need a strong focus on measurement and flexibility in both negotiation and execution. All of which were “not necessarily a strong-point with Apple advertising in the past,” Auzins said.
“Because its reach is much lower than Disney or Netflix, it may not be able to cash in on the trend of higher and higher CPMs,” said Insider Intelligence analyst Daniel Konstantinovic in a 2022 report.
Apple is also trying to diversify its ad offering and capture the big budgets usually spent by TV advertisers. Today, Apple’s ad business largely consists of search ads sold within the App Store, which Insider Intelligence forecasts will generate $8.7 billion this year.
Analysts at Evercore ISI predicted last year Apple will extend advertising to more of its services — such as Maps and Apple TV — and could potentially generate $30 billion in ad revenue in the next four years. Eric Seufert, media strategist and founder of the Mob Dev Memo blog, said Maps and Podcasts are obvious advertising opportunities for Apple.
Other industry sources speculate that Apple’s sizable presence at Cannes will follow a big advertising announcement at its Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off at its Apple Park California headquarters on June 5. Apple is also highly rumored to unveil a mixed-reality headset at WWDC, as reported by outlets like the Verge. It would be an opportunity to encourage brands and other creative companies to create content.
A marketing executive, who asked not to be identified, said Apple’s splash at Cannes was ironic given the company’s love-hate relationship with advertising.
Apple Cofounder Steve Jobs launched its iAd mobile ad network in 2010 with the bold ambition of capturing 50% of the mobile ad market, but it was shut down six years later. And in 2021, Apple launched its AppTrackingTransparency privacy update that threw the ad industry into a spin and took a chunk out of the ad businesses of Meta, YouTube, and Snap.
“How is privacy and ads going to work?” said the marketing executive.