Apple change could thwart Google's AdMob

By preventing ad networks affiliated with mobile operating system vendors from sharing key details with customers, Apple could have soured Google's AdMob win.

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Apple's decision to bar ad networks affiliated with competitors from using iPhone ad data will probably provoke emotion--if not interactivity--at Google. James Martin/CNET

Less than two weeks after Google completed its acquisition of iPhone ad network AdMob, Apple appears to have thrown Google quite the curveball.

Apple quietly changed the terms of service for the iPhone developer agreement Monday along with the release of developer version of iOS4 at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference, according to MediaMemo and several other blogs. If preliminary interpretations of a key section are correct, Google's newly acquired AdMob subsidiary will be unable to share ad analytic information with its customers who have placed ads in applications on the iPhone, rendering those ads much less valuable.

Section 3.3.9 of the new agreement says that ad networks will only be allowed to share that data if:

The collection, use or disclosure is for the purpose of serving advertising to Your Application; is provided to an independent advertising service provider whose primary business is serving mobile ads (for example, an advertising service provider owned by or affiliated with a developer or distributor of mobile devices, mobile operating systems or development environments other than Apple would not qualify as independent); and the disclosure is limited to UDID, user location data, and other data specifically designated by Apple as available for advertising purposes.

AdMob, now owned by mobile operating system developer and distributor Google, would appear to fall outside those permitted cases. That means AdMob would be unable to tell advertisers information about how and when their ad was being clicked by iPhone users, its biggest market.

That's not likely to sit well with Google, which did not respond to a request for comment on its interpretation of the clause. After winning a bidding war with Apple, Google paid $750 million for AdMob only to have to sit on the deal for six months before the Federal Trade Commission agreed to let it pass based in large part on the fact that Apple plans to compete in mobile advertising with its iAds product.

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