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  • Former Facebook product manager and ‘Chaos Monkeys’ author Antonio Garcia Martinez has joined Apple.
  • He’s working on Apple’s ad platforms product engineering team, according to a LinkedIn update.
  • The move marks the latest signal that Apple is looking to grow its fledgling advertising business.

Apple recently hired former Facebook ads product manager and “Chaos Monkeys” author Antonio Garcia Martinez to join its ad platforms product engineering team, another sign of the technology giant’s growing ambitions in the advertising space.

Garcia Martinez joined Apple in April and will be based out of Cupertino, California, according to his LinkedIn profile. Apple’s ad platforms team works on the technology that powers ads within the App Store and the Apple News and Stocks apps.

Apple didn’t respond to requests for comment. Garcia Martinez declined to comment.

Garcia Martinez, who worked at Facebook between 2011 and 2013, was an influential figure on the social network’s early ad product team. He first focused on its ad-targeting efforts before becoming product manager on FBX, Facebook’s now defunct real-time bidding ad exchange. He published “Chaos Monkeys” in 2016, a tell-all memoir covering his time at the company. Garcia Martinez has since gone on to hold roles at adtech company Nanigans and mobile-measurement firm Branch. He’s also served as an adviser to to Twitter.

The hire marks the latest move suggesting Apple is looking to ramp up its relatively small ads division once again. In 2016 the company killed off its iAd ad network, Apple’s boldest advertising effort to date that launched with bold ambitions but failed to gain a real footing in the highly competitive mobile ad market.

Last month, the company introduced a big privacy change in the latest update for its iPhone operating system. Dubbed App Tracking Transparency, developers now need to gain permission from users in order to track them across other websites and apps for advertising purposes.

So far, user opt-in rates have been low, and advertisers have said the new rules make it trickier to precision-target users and measure the effectiveness of their ad campaigns.

Last year, analysts at Arete Research estimated the privacy change could wipe out $40 billion in mobile app ad spending, affecting companies ranging from tech giants including Facebook, Snap, and Twitter to games developers and publishers.

Some ad-industry observers have said the change could boost Apple's fledgling ads business as advertisers look to new methods beyond in-app advertising to boost awareness of their apps among users. Bernstein analyst Toni Sacconaghi made a "conservative" estimate in 2018 that Apple's App Store ads could be a $2 billion business by 2020; Apple recorded revenue of $274 billion for its 2020 financial year.

Perhaps not coincidentally, Apple last week launched a new ad format called "Search tab campaigns," a unit that sits atop the list of "suggested apps" when a user visits the search section of the App Store.

Charlie Curtis, managing director at UK-based digital-media specialist recruitment agency Moriati Media, said Apple had been ramping up its search for advertising experts since around the third-quarter of 2018.

A search for "ad platforms" on Apple's careers site brings up 53 results for roles based around the globe, including product managers, search platform specialists, software engineers, and a legal counsel. One recent job listing also suggests Apple is building a new team within the ad platforms engineering unit that will be focused on protecting against fraudulent traffic.

"They are throwing a lot of money around and paying way above the market rate," Curtis said. "There's a rigorous interview process and they pay what it takes to get talented people."

While Apple's advertising advancements might have the effect of siphoning away some ad dollars from the likes of Google and Facebook, Bill Wise, CEO of ad-software company Mediaocean, says Apple is likely to take a markedly different - and less data-hungry - approach from the so-called digital advertising duopoly.

"I actually don't think Apple is gearing up to be a major player in the ad market," Wise said. "I think there's a separate approach more around regulating and worrying about privacy - and nobody is better at understanding the first-party and third-party data ecosystem than adtech people."

Indeed, a recent job description for an engineering role on the ads platforms team describes how the company is "setting new standards for enabling effective advertising while protecting user privacy."

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