Apple To Drop Flash Support In macOS Sierra

What Happened
Apple has officially joined Google and Mozilla in the effort to put Adobe’s Flash to bed. The Cupertino company announced in a blog post on Tuesday that it will be deactivating Flash by default on Safari 10, opting for HTML5 content implementations on websites when available. That means no auto-playing video ads or animated web pages powered by Flash will be viewable in Safari in the new macOS Sierra which ships later this year.

What Brands Need To Do
Once the most popular way to serve rich media content and build an interactive website, Flash has been quickly fading out of use due to its resource intensity, numerous security flaws, and the rise of HTML5. Still, Flash has proven to be oddly resilient in the ad industry, partly due to institutional inertia among digital creatives. Now with Apple’s decision to default to HTML5, Flash is practically on its deathbed, which means it is high time that brands ditched Flash and switched to HTML5 for their ads and websites.


Source: The Next Web


Header image courtesy of Apple’s Keynote video on YouTube

Fast Forward: Everything From Apple’s WWDC 2016 That Brands Need To Know

Your guide to tech-driven changes in the media landscape by IPG Media Lab. A fast read for you and a forward for your clients and team.

  • Apple released SDKs for iMessage, Siri, and Maps, allowing brands to integrate with those three platforms at the core of the iPhone experience
  • Apple Pay will work on mobile and desktop in Safari, allowing brands to create a seamless shopping experience, and will support third-party Watch apps
  • iOS 10 will add 3D-touch support and rich interactions to notifications, continuing a trend toward more powerful notifications

What Apple Announced
Apple kicked off its annual Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) yesterday in San Francisco with a jam-packed, two-hour keynote presentation. For a summary of the announcements that Apple made today, TechCrunch has a great summary. The announcements from the opening keynote that are relevant to brands and marketers include:

  • Apple Pay – including loyalty cards and coupons – now works with third-party Watch apps as well as on the web in Safari, which will make checkout seamless on both desktop and mobile.
  • The Messages app receives a massive makeover in iOS 10, gaining a more animated interface and tons of fun new features. Most importantly, Apple is introducing an App Store for iMessage, turning their messaging app into a platform that can be extended by developers and brands. These apps can be bundled with a full-fledged iOS app or they can be distributed independently.
  • Apple Maps in iOS 10 launches Map Extensions for developers to integrate services such as restaurant booking or ride hailing right into Maps
  • Siri SDK allows Siri to perform actions in third-party apps in supported domains, including messaging, ride-sharing, photo search, and payments via apps like Square Cash and AliPay.
  • Siri search in the new tvOS for Apple TV will include YouTube results, allowing brands to get in front of more people by partnering with YouTube creators.
  • iOS 10 beefs up notifications with rich interactions and 3D Touch support.


New noticificationsWhat Brands Need To Do
As iOS 10 introduces news ways to increase user engagement with apps by helping the system suggest your app to users at appropriate times, it is paramount that brands make sure to properly index their app content so that users can access in-app content and services through Spotlight, web search results, and Siri suggestions. Brands should make sure the locations and amenities of owned or partner stores, hotels, and restaurants are properly indexed for Siri so that users can easily access the information they need.

Between new rich notifications, Siri support for some types of apps, and widgets becoming available on the iOS lock screen, Apple has begun unbundling the app-centric model it helped create. Though these features are all delivered and supported by an installed app, it’s increasingly possible for users to never have to open the app itself to accomplish a task. Brands will have to work with developers to ensure their branded apps support these new features to maximize engagement.

For any brand that sells directly to consumers online, especially those in the retail and fashion industries, the updates for Apple Pay spell exciting new opportunities to create a frictionless shopping experience across devices. The new Safari integration allows customers shopping on brands’ websites to easily check out using Apple Pay on mobile browsers and, thanks to the Continuity feature in the new macOS, on their Mac devices as well. And the API allows brands to integrate Apple Pay into their Watch apps to provide a seamless purchase experience.

How We Can Help
Please contact Client Services Director Samantha Holland ([email protected]) at the IPG Media Lab if you would like more detail or want to schedule a visit to the Lab to discuss how your brand may benefit from integrating with Apple’s ecosystem, particularly in messaging and in the living room with Apple TV.

For previous editions of Fast Forward, please visit Please reply with any constructive criticism or feedback. We want these to be as useful as possible for you and your clients, and your input will help us immensely.


Apple 2016 WWDC Preview: New App Store Policies And More

What Happened
In anticipation of its annual WWDC developer conference that kicks off on Monday, Apple has announced several strategic changes to its App Store.

In an interview with The Verge, Phil Schiller, Apple’s senior VP of global marketing and head of App Store, says that Apple will start displaying ads in App Store search results. Seemingly taking a cue from Google’s Play Store, Apple will start “cautiously” testing paid search ads in the App Store, displaying a single ad per search at the top of the search results. The ad auction system in the App Store search will be “fair to developers and fair for indie developers, too,” according to Schiller.

Schiller also revealed that the company will reduce its take of app revenue for apps that can retain long-term subscriptions. Instead of the existing 70/30 revenue split model, Apple will reduce its take to 15% provided that the app manages to retain a customer subscription for more than a year. If widely adopted, developers will be incentivized to build apps that charge recurring fees for access to content and services, instead of selling them at a one-time cost. Shortly after Apple’s announcements, Google broke the news that it will match Apple’s new model, offering Android developers the same 85/15 revenue split immediately,

Why Brands Should Care
As a harbinger to the upcoming WWDC announcements – which we expect to include a smart Siri, a refreshed iOS, and an updated Apple Pay that works on mobile web – these changes to the App Store signals Apple’s willingness to learn from Google and incentivize its developer community. Google’s counterstrike also shows that they are more than willing to play ball and keep up. For brands, the new search ads in the App Store can help increase their app visibility and drive more downloads, which will undoubtedly come in handy when launching a new app or gearing up for a mobile-based campaign.

For more updates on Apple’s WWDC announcements and the implications they may have for brands, remember to check back next week for our take on the event.


Source: The Verge & Engadget


What Healthcare Brands Should Know About Apple CareKit Apps

What Happened
Apple first unveiled CareKit, an open-source SDK for building apps that monitor and collect data from patients with chronic diseases or in post-surgery recovery, at its keynote event last month. Apple officially started rolling out CareKit on Thursday, and the first batch of apps integrated with CareKit are now here. They include two apps from Glow for new parents, Glow Nurture and Glow Baby, a diabetes-tracking app called One Drop, and an app for monitoring depression medications named Start.

What Healthcare Brands Need To Do
Following the well-received HealthKit, Apple’s CareKit should provide healthcare and pharmaceutical brands with another great channel to learn more about patients’ needs. Data collected from mobile and wearable devices is playing an increasingly crucial role in medical research and improving patient-care practices. Fitbit announced yesterday that it is teaming up with a leading research center in Boston to assist the data collection in a major cancer research project. For healthcare brands, the official rollout of CareKit means it is time to start working with developers to figure out how to integrate their products or services into those patient-facing CareKit apps and gain insights from the data they generate.


Source: TechCrunch

Apple Mandates Watch Apps Work Independently By June

What Happened
Apple is requiring all new Apple Watch apps to run independently from iPhones by June 1st. The company issued the mandate to developers on Friday, indicating that it would reject Watch apps unable to function on their own from the App Store. Apple has allowed developers to create standalone Watch apps since the launch of watchOS 2 last September, whereas previously all Apple Watch apps ran on the iPhone they are linked with. The announcement dovetails with the Wall Street Journal’s report that the next Apple Watch hardware update may feature built-in cellular connectivity.

What Brands Need To Do
Since its launch one year ago, twice as many Apple Watches have been sold as iPhones during its first year, according to the Wall Street Journal. While marketers have yet to receive much support to advertise on Apple Watch, some early-adopting brands, such as Nike, Target, and Starwood Hotels, have developed branded apps. Given this announcement, it seems safe to predict that the new Apple Watch will become more powerful in its computing capability and therefore enable brands to develop more wearable-specific use cases to deliver true value to their customers through standalone Watch apps.


Source: The Verge

Apple Considers Adding Paid Search Ads To The App Store

What Happened
Apple has reportedly put together a secret team to work on improving search in its App Store. The team is said to be exploring the possible addition of paid search ads, which would charge brands and developers to have their apps prominently displayed in app search results. It is likely that they will end up with an implementation similar to the one that Google currently has in the Google Play store.

What Brands Need To Do
With over 1.5 million apps available in the App Store, it is getting increasingly hard for apps to get discovered. If implemented, paid search ads in the App Store should provide brands the opportunity to make a strong push for their branded apps. When a user searches for an app, the keywords they use indicate intent, and brands can reach those users by buying certain keywords that align with the utility or service their apps provide. For example, a retailer could promote its app to all users searching for “fashion” or “shopping,” whereas a hotel brand could target potential travelers who are searching for airline apps or transportation maps for specific cities.


Source: AdAge

What You Need To Know About Today’s Apple Event

As you may have heard, Apple hosted a keynote event at its Infinite Loop campus in Cupertino earlier today. As anticipated, the company unveiled a new 4-inch iPhone model and a smaller iPad Pro. A new addition to its healthcare toolkits was one of the few surprises. Here is everything a marketer should know about Apple’s announcements today.  

iPhone SE Aims To Reach More Consumers
Apple has been pushing for bigger screens since the iPhone 6, but the company says that most first-time iPhone users are still buying 4-inch iPhones, especially those in certain global markets such as China. In fact, Apple sold over 30 million 4-inch iPhones in 2015 alone. Aiming to capture those smaller-phone lovers, Apple introduced the iPhone SE which comes with a 4-inch screen and significant hardware improvements from Apple’s last 4-inch offering. Equipped with the A9 processor and the M9 motion coprocessor, iPhone SE is as powerful as the iPhone 6s, and will no doubt bring the latest features, such as Apple Pay, always-on Siri, and Touch ID, to more smartphone users.

iPad Pro Positioned As A PC Replacement
Apple also followed up last year’s 12.9-inch iPad Pro with a smaller version. The new iPad Pro comes with a 9.7-inch retina display, improved hardware specs, and its own custom keyboard. The Cupertino company shared that of the 308 million total iPads sold, over 200 million have had 9.7-inch screens, and that the majority of iPad Pro buyers were moving from a Windows PC. With over 1 million apps designed for iPad available in the App Store, Apple seems bullish on the iPad Pro’s market positioning as a PC replacement.

New CareKit To Boost Healthcare Apps
Apple’s HealthKit, which helps collect data for medical studies, has proven to be a hit among medical professionals. In fact, Apple says it facilitated the largest Parkinson’s study to date in less than 24 hours of its launch last year. To follow up on the ResearchKit’s early success, Apple debuted a new developer framework called CareKit, which focuses on patient-facing data that can assist chronic patient care or monitoring post-surgical recovery. The first app to use this framework will also focus on Parkinson’s. This new developer tool should provide healthcare brands with another great channel to learn more about patients’ needs.

Header image courtesy of

Native Ads Are Coming To Apple News

What Happened
Apple is dipping a toe into native advertising with a new format for sponsored posts in the next update for its Apple News app. With the new format, sponsored posts will “display directly in the content feed, in line with News articles” from a publisher’s feed and can link to an article in the News app. The new ad format will clearly label branded content in the app with a small “sponsored” tag, and Apple will keep 30% of the revenue. The Apple News app will be updated as part of the upcoming version of iOS, expected to be released next week as Apple announces new devices.

What Brands Need To Do
In January, Apple reported that 40 million people had used the Apple News app. Now, Apple is opening a way for brands to get in front of an audience that is increasingly shunning mobile ads and turning to the likes of Facebook’s Instant Articles or Apple News for a faster, leaner reading experience. Native ads remain a good way for brands to cope with this behavioral shift and reach their target audience.

To learn more about tailoring your ad content and format to the platform of choice, check out the Ad Avoidance section in our Outlook 2016.


Source: Engadget

Best Of The Lab 2015: How To Cope With The Rise Of Ad-Blockers

Welcome to the Lab’s year-end review, looking back at some of our best and most popular posts from 2015.

Ever since Apple added support for content-blocking Safari extensions to iOS 9, ad-blockers rocketed to the front pages and become a hot topic among advertisers and online publishers. While the scope of its impact may still be up for debate, one thing is undeniable: today’s tech-savvy consumers are starting to realize they can avoid ads by using ad-blockers. How will your brand cope? Here are some actionable suggestions from the Lab.

Fast Forward: Ad Blocking in iOS 9 Safari & What You Need to Do
Popular Ad-blocking Extension Adblock Now Allows Whitelisting
Why Ad-Blockers On iOS 9 Might Not Be What You Think
How Adblockers Are Messing Up Retailers’ Websites


Apple Launches App To Help Businesses Create Indoor Maps

What Happened
On Sunday Apple quietly launched a dedicated indoor mapping app on iOS named Indoor Survey, which uses radio signals and WiFi to locate users and allow business owners to map out their venues using nothing but iPhones. This first-party app marks Apple’s latest effort in indoor mapping, after introducing iBeacons in 2013 and launching Apple Maps Connect last year, an initiative that invites businesses to verify and submit their indoor mapping information.

What Brands Need To Do
Unlike the Apple Maps Connect program, which is only open to businesses with over a million yearly visitors, this new Indoor Survey app bares no such restriction. With Apple slowly but surely opening up the iOS ecosystem to ecommerce, businesses that operate sizeable retail stores or event venues would be smart to try out this new indoor mapping tool from Apple and prepare for the Cupertino company to expand its mapping efforts into more granular, localized areas.


Source: The Verge