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Apple looks to revamp iAd to lure more advertisers

The update to Apple's mobile-advertising platform would allow marketers to "retarget" ads based on a user's behavior within different apps.

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James Martin/CNET

Apple is working with ad agencies to improve its mobile-advertising platform iAd and more effectively target iOS users, according to a new report.

Apple is holding secret meetings with ad agencies to discuss how it will use so-called retargeting to direct ads on mobile devices to shoppers who might have an interest in a particular product, Digiday reported Thursday, citing people who claim to have knowledge of its plans.

Retargeting has become a hot topic in the world of digital advertising. The technique essentially allows marketers to identify what a person is looking at and then hit them with ads on other sites or apps that in some way relate to their previous searches. The idea is that retargeting identifies a particular interest and delivers ads related to it as a means of improving advertising effectiveness.

Before the launch of iOS 8, the issue with iAd was that it didn't track its iOS users in the same fashion as other services do online. Retargeting, therefore, was practically impossible.

However, according to Digiday, Apple is now touting a new tracking feature built into iOS 8 that makes it easier for marketers to find out what device users have been up to and hit them with targeted ads. For example, if a user goes into a shopping app on an iOS-based device and adds a product to his or her cart, but then decides against buying it, iAd would allow marketers to target those people with relevant ads in other apps.

According to Digiday's sources, Apple is currently working closely with e-commerce marketers, as it sees that group as a potential target for the new feature.

Apple did not respond to a request for comment on the report.