Apple should not be injecting ads in its Apple Music playlists

Posted:
in General Discussion edited May 2022
There are now advertisements for first-party Apple radio shows within the paid Apple Music service -- and there absolutely shouldn't be.

Apple Music ad
Apple Music ad


Retired Apple reporter Jim Dalrymple took to Twitter on Tuesday to voice his frustration with the fact that Apple is playing ads on a playlist despite claiming to be ad-free.

The ads themselves appear to be first-party spots advertising Apple One radio shows. However, they're not appearing in a Beats or Apple One radio program, and they're not in user-saved playlists.

Instead, the ads are playing between songs in auto-generated or curated playlists, such as ones for specific genres. And, it doesn't matter if they're selected with Siri or by the touch interface.

AppleInsider tested the behavior with users having paid Apple One subscriptions and the Apple Music family plan, and received multiple ad spots for radio shows in auto-generated and curated playlists. We tested in both the U.S. and the U.K., and had the interstitial inserts in both regions.

Examples of the ad spots we received on Apple Music.
Examples of the ad spots we received on Apple Music.


The inserts seemingly started appearing in Apple Music for a number of users at some point after the introduction of the cheaper $4.99 Voice Plan. However, the ad spots are still showing up for subscribers at a higher tier.

Humans running a channel need a break for whatever the reason. We know, because some of the AppleInsider staff have had live radio gigs before. We'll take and happily accept ads on that kind of programming.

While the ads in the algorithmically-generated stream are skippable, they're still annoying -- and unexpected -- for listeners who are paying a premium for music for an unmanned channel.

What's going on with ads in Apple Music playlists?

There are two possible explanations here. The feature might be a bug affecting playlists when they should only appear on radio stations. Even though the feature started appearing after Voice Plan debuted, Apple advertised that cheaper subscription as ad-free too, so there's no excuse for that plan to have first-party ads.

The second explanation is that Apple doesn't consider these advertisements at all. It might view them as part of its curation strategy, or as a "Discovery" feature. There's evidence for this, since ads for relevant radio shows will show up in genre playlists.

However, there's some evidence that these ads are indeed intentional. Each ad is actually a track within Apple Music stored within an "album" and embedded in playlists or streams. Those tracks are all advertisements for radio shows, and although the album isn't shareable, the individual tracks are. Each track is about 40 seconds long.

The ads themselves are
The ads themselves are "songs" stored within hidden albums in Apple Music.


This could also be the same way that Apple Music Voice works, and unintentional behavior.

Not a good look for Apple Music

Whether or not it's intentional, the behavior needs to stop. Apple shouldn't advertise Apple Music as ad-free if it keeps these ads in the service. They may be first-party "Discovery" ads, but they're still ads.

One of the primary draws of Apple Music is the fact that it's an ad-free streaming platform, unlike the free tiers of Spotify and Pandora. Apple Music is also not free -- you're paying for the fact that you don't have to listen to ads.

Showing first-party ads to customers is also not a good look while Apple is in the midst of antitrust criticisms. Apple is growing its first-party ad business, but has repeatedly denied claims that it is seeking to boost that segment while hamstringing competitors with privacy features.

Apple isn't likely to be maliciously snuffing out its competition in the ad market, given the small size of its own ad business and its pro-privacy stance. However, placing your own ads in an exclusive ad spot in a paid service is bad optics.

The fact that these ads are appearing in playlists is unacceptable. A "discovery" ad spot for a radio show makes sense to listeners of radio shows, but not people who simply want to listen to music without an annoying ad interrupting them. Apple shouldn't even have these ads in its cheaper Apple Music Voice Plan unless it explicitly stops advertising that service as ad-free.

If Apple wants to place ads for its own radio shows in Apple Music, then it needs to implement a free tier with access to playlists, tracks, albums, and songs. That wouldn't be such a bad idea for Apple, though it seems unlikely given the company's desire to offer a premium service. Of course, ads don't belong on an "ad-free" service -- even if they're first-party ads.

Apple should have a premium completely ad-free -- including Apple's own -- service that costs money each month like it has with Apple One, Apple Music family plans or Apple Music single-user. It should also have a less-expensive tier like Apple Music Voice with these interstitials, or it can have a free and heavily ad-supported tier, like Spotify's free plan.

AppleInsider is engaged in a conversation with Apple about the matter. We will update this piece accordingly as information comes in.

We're hoping it's unintended behavior.

Read on AppleInsider
dewme

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    AppleishAppleish Posts: 645member
    Not happening to me. Weird.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 18
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,236member
    They also show up on the Radio stations, not just playlists.They are 'skippable', like any unwanted track, but it's still annoying.
    For some reason, when I listen to SXM in the car, I do not mind the self promos, but these are bothering me.
    byronl
  • Reply 3 of 18
    tskwaratskwara Posts: 10member
    They are showing up for me too, and it's quite annoying.  Paying $29.99/mo for a full Apple One subscription should leave me ad-free.  Coincidentally, an ad started playing just I I typed this comment.
    edited May 2022 viclauyycbyronl
  • Reply 4 of 18
    I hate this. I listen to pop radio and I hear these ads I am very upset they are so annoying. 
    byronlgrandact73
  • Reply 5 of 18
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,730member
    I had this the other day, I was very surprised and disappointed. You should never get ads in a service like this that you pay for. That is part of the reason people pay for it, otherwise what's the point, might as well use Spotify's free tier. At least their music suggestion algorithm works. I have absolutely zero interest in listening to any of the trash on Beats One which seems to be almost exclusively hip hop which I hate - or at least that's all I ever see on it - making the ads even more galling.

    Just another way Cook is desperate to increase profits at the expense of customer satisfaction. 
    edited May 2022 entropysbyronl
  • Reply 6 of 18
    9secondkox29secondkox2 Posts: 2,258member
    Noticed this too. Shouldn’t be happening on a paid platform. 

    And if it’s an attempt at curated discovery, it’s failing hard. 

    Just set up a homepage for that stuff. When I’m enjoying, don’t interrupt with hawking your other wares. 
    byronl
  • Reply 7 of 18
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,831member
    Wow - Completely agree with the above posts. If I’m paying for the service, part of what I’m paying for is no ads. 

    I’m trialing Spotify right now and for the same price they have no ads. Definitely puts Apple Music behind. 
    baconstangbyronlelijahggrandact73
  • Reply 8 of 18
    Completely agree. I don’t mind paying for a service, but I expect an ad-free experience for my money.
    corp1baconstangdigitolbyronlgrandact73
  • Reply 9 of 18
    Just as pathetic as having to browse through ads in the paid Apple News subscription. That’s the major reason I cancelled it. 
    corp19secondkox2elijahggrandact73
  • Reply 10 of 18
    corp1corp1 Posts: 78member
    Absolutely terrible.

    They also shouldn't abuse the OS by inserting advertisements in it (e.g. in the Settings app) and they should not abuse notifications for sending advertisements for Apple subscription services.

    Ads in search in the app store are also garbage, because you search for an app by its exact title and it ends up below the fold and instead you get an ad for some other app unless the original developer paid protection money to Apple.

    The drive for ever greater revenue from subscription services is harming the user experience. 

    edited May 2022 9secondkox2elijahggrandact73baconstang
  • Reply 11 of 18
    entropysentropys Posts: 4,071member
    The day I get an ad on Apple Music is the day it is cancelled. Luckily I don’t use apple radio stations.
    grandact73
  • Reply 12 of 18
    digitoldigitol Posts: 276member
    This is Appalling! More examples of Apple being rotten include: 

    Sells outdated/old tech at a premium:
    - Up until a few years ago, 2019, Apple was STILL still selling iMacs with 5400 rpm drives in them! Ridiculous! 
    - Constantly behind on graphics cards
    -  Uses slower RAM 
    -  Up until two years ago, (2020) max WiFi speed was 802.11a/c. WiFi a/x wifi 6 not supported!

    Security/privacy 
    - Plenty of virus malware in the Apple Appstore. 
    - Plenty of zero day vulnerabilities still exist.
    Often the reason there are so many software updates. Yet there are so many security holes in the Apple platform, often these updates lag incredibly behind. Do it right the first time is what comes to mind. 
    - Apple sells/shares your data with partners
    Read the ULA’s. 
    Apple’s policy of telling you about all advantages, but not disclosing what’s missing is plain rotten. 
    - Adverts in payed subs. 
    - Often, updates remove features and apps  Network utility has been shelved. AppleScript is defunct. Safari support online is waning. Apple forces need for new hardware just to have the most up to date functioning software. (Forced obsolescence)  while other third party software like Firefox works perfectly fine on a much wider range of Macs. 
     
    Quality of software down. 

    - lots of software bugs and instability. Turning devices and settings off/on, signing out of iCloud etc to “fix” glitches is ridiculous and all too common. If all of you know that these are known fixes, shouldn’t Apple ? Apple needs to properly address this. 
     
    Apple needs a leader/leadership who actually uses the products. They need to do better.  



    byronlgatorguyelijahggrandact73
  • Reply 13 of 18
    danoxdanox Posts: 2,387member
    Maybe the EU is right? 
  • Reply 14 of 18
    crowleycrowley Posts: 10,453member
    digitol said:
    AppleScript is defunct. 
    You what?
  • Reply 15 of 18
    mike1mike1 Posts: 3,236member
    digitol said:
    This is Appalling! More examples of Apple being rotten include: 

    Sells outdated/old tech at a premium:
    - Up until a few years ago, 2019, Apple was STILL still selling iMacs with 5400 rpm drives in them! Ridiculous! 
    - Constantly behind on graphics cards
    -  Uses slower RAM 
    -  Up until two years ago, (2020) max WiFi speed was 802.11a/c. WiFi a/x wifi 6 not supported!

    Security/privacy 
    - Plenty of virus malware in the Apple Appstore. 
    - Plenty of zero day vulnerabilities still exist.
    Often the reason there are so many software updates. Yet there are so many security holes in the Apple platform, often these updates lag incredibly behind. Do it right the first time is what comes to mind. 
    - Apple sells/shares your data with partners
    Read the ULA’s. 
    Apple’s policy of telling you about all advantages, but not disclosing what’s missing is plain rotten. 
    - Adverts in payed subs. 
    - Often, updates remove features and apps  Network utility has been shelved. AppleScript is defunct. Safari support online is waning. Apple forces need for new hardware just to have the most up to date functioning software. (Forced obsolescence)  while other third party software like Firefox works perfectly fine on a much wider range of Macs. 
     
    Quality of software down. 

    - lots of software bugs and instability. Turning devices and settings off/on, signing out of iCloud etc to “fix” glitches is ridiculous and all too common. If all of you know that these are known fixes, shouldn’t Apple ? Apple needs to properly address this. 
     
    Apple needs a leader/leadership who actually uses the products. They need to do better.  




    Why are you even here? Simply don't buy anything from Apple.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 18
    lipnorthlipnorth Posts: 13member
    I sent feedback to Apple. Suggest others do the same. Don’t let them trial this. Don’t let them think it’s ok.

    https://www.apple.com/feedback/

    As a premier subscriber I expect no ads. Ads will make me rethink. 
    elijahgtechrider
  • Reply 17 of 18
    WilliamMWilliamM Posts: 19member
    What is the point of these ads? Aren't Apple's Music radio stations available to everyone on a subscription? How will they get more money if someone hearing the ad decides to listen to the station. How successful are these radio stations? Maybe no-one listens and the people responsible want to justify their jobs by getting an audience.

    Another example of the failure of leadership at Apple. The man at top seems more interested in donating money to disaster relief than building a future for the company he plans to leave soon (although I don't remember anything about helping the millions of refugees from Ukraine).

    Time to get rid of the technocrat and get someone who understands the technology and people (both inside and outside the business).
    elijahg
  • Reply 18 of 18
    I contacted Apple Support about this about 2 weeks ago. The official response that I got back was “radio stations are not considered ad-free”. It was via a phone call (2 hours, plus transferred from person to person) so no screenshots of their response.
    That tells me a few things. A) intentional on their part, b) they don’t plan on stopping, and c) they’ve false-advertised the whole “ad-free” thing. Because at no point on their website did it have an asterisk by the ad-free claim specifying it was only for streaming an album.
    gatorguymuthuk_vanalingam
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