The Runway Media’s Katie Atkinson on Apple Ad Buying Speculation; Instagram Bonuses; and The EU vs Big Tech

On this week’s episode of TheMadTech Podcast, Katie Atkinson, founder of The Runway Media, joins ExchangeWire's Mat Broughton and Ciaran O'Kane to discuss the latest news in media, marketing, and commerce.


This week they cover:

- Apple are secretly buying Google ads for high value-apps to siphon millions of dollars in subscription revenue, according to a report published in Forbes. Under the scheme, which has allegedly been going on for at least two years, Apple are placing ads for subscription services which route directly back to their app store. Brands affected include Tinder, Bumble, HBO, Masterclass, and Babbel.

Although this may seem beneficial for some developers, the move, which is being performed without developer consent, could severely compromise customer lifetime value; if a consumer were to subscribe to a service directly, the developer would receive all the funds, whereas if they were to sign up directly via the App Store, the developer would be obliged to pay 30% commission to Apple on all future subscription payments.

The subversive behaviour comes amid ongoing scrutiny into the commission tariff charged by Apple. This challenge has been brought to light in the wake of their highly-publicised legal case with Epic Games, where Apple have been forced to allow app developers to offer alternative payment methods. The tech giant recently requested a stay in regards to this ruling, which was later denied by Judge Gonzalez Rogers. Apple attorney Mark Perry has commented on the denied motion, stating, “this will be the first time Apple has ever allowed live links in an app for digital content. It’s going to take months to figure out the engineering, economic, business, and other issues.”


- Instagram is offering influencers a hefty bonus of up to USD$10,000 (£7,419) for posting short-form video content via their Reels platform. Rival platforms YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight have both already offered cash incentives to creators, in attempts to lure influencers away from TikTok, which recently surpassed the one billion monthly active user mark.

While Instagram is discouraging users from posting content from elsewhere by deflating any videos posted with a watermark from other platforms, YouTube is taking an alternative approach by actively targeting TikTok creators, offering up to USD$50,000 (£37,099) to popular TikTokers to post 100 YouTube Shorts over six months, according to a recently-published report in Business Insider

The Reels incentive programme has however encountered numerous concerns, particularly around the lack of transparency around payments. Creators are becoming increasingly confused about how bonuses are determined, with one creator with a 24,000 following being offered USD$8,500 (£6,306), the same amount offered to one with 800 followers. Instagram responded, with a spokesperson telling TechCrunch, “we’re continuing to test payments as we roll out to more creators, and expect them to fluctuate while we’re still getting started. We’ve designed bonuses so that we can help as many creators as we can in a way that is achievable and drives meaningful earnings. Our goal is for bonuses to become more personalised over time.”


- Countries within the European Union have reached an agreement that the EU Commission is to be the sole enforcer of proposed Digital Markets Act rules, which are set to restrict the behaviour of “digital gatekeepers”, which include Google, Meta, Amazon, Apple, and Microsoft. The move is significant as, earlier in June, national antitrust organisations argued that they should share enforcement powers with the EU Commission, and have the legal authority to start investigations in their respective jurisdictions. Under the newly-agreed rules, individual antitrust authorities can carry out investigations into gatekeepers only at the request of the EU Commission.

The ruling is seen as a blow to French and German authorities which have been ramping up their actions against big tech firms in recent years. This year, France’s competition watchdog has dished out notable fines this year including a USD$592m (£439.2m) fine for Google and a USD$1.3bn (£964.6m) penalty for Apple, while the German counterpart has opened investigations into Apple, Google, and Amazon over the past two months.

The centralised system for DMA action marks a sharp contrast to the system underpinning enforcement of GDPR, in which national data protection authorities take the lead on investigations. This approach has seen its share of critics, with the Irish Data Protection Commission facing particularly strong flack for perceived inaction against big tech firms.