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Apple’s digital ad initiatives have had mixed results in the past, but that apparently isn’t stopping the company from pursuing a new option: selling ads within search results offered by third-party apps. The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple plans to build on its existing system for selling ads within App Store search results, enabling iOS developers to get paid to display Apple-offered ads within in-app searches.

According to the report, Apple has discussed the initiative with Snap, Pinterest, and other companies over the past year, with an ad revenue split that will vary from app to app. The Journal says that a user searching for “NFL” in Snapchat might see a ticket reseller’s app, while looking for “drapes” in Pinterest might surface an ad for an interior design app.

Notably, the report suggests that the new initiative will — like the App Store’s search results — focus on advertising iOS apps rather than physical goods or other products, the original focus of an Apple iAds project that ran into issues years ago. As shown in the screenshot here, results for App Store searches remain somewhat scattershot; they can now turn up completely unrelated apps badged with “Ad,” unusually surfaced apps that aren’t ads, or advertised apps that may well be exactly what a user is looking for.

Apple’s formal announcement of the new initiative could take place at the Worldwide Developers Conference next week in San Jose, or could come later. Its existing app-focused search business is said to be worth nearly $1 billion, so offering developers a share of those revenues could be a nice incentive to incorporate the feature.


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