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An Apple Byte : Instagram and Facebook Ads ‘Apple Tax’

Meta has announced that it will be passing on Apple’s 30 per cent service charge (often referred to as the “Apple tax”) to advertisers who pay to boost posts on Facebook and Instagram through the iOS app.

This move is a response to Apple’s in-app purchase fees, which apply to digital transactions within apps available on the iOS platform (announced in the updated App Store guidelines back in 2022). Advertisers wanting to avoid the additional 30 per cent fee can do so by opting to boost their posts from the web, using either Facebook.com or Instagram.com via desktop and mobile browsers.

Meta says it is “required to either comply with Apple’s guidelines, or remove boosted posts from our apps” and that, “we do not want to remove the ability to boost posts, as this would hurt small businesses by making the feature less discoverable and potentially deprive them of a valuable way to promote their business.” 

Apple has reportedly responded (a statement in MacRumors), saying that it has “always required that purchases of digital goods and services within apps must use In-App Purchase,” and that because boosting a post “is a digital service — so of course In-App Purchase is required”.

Meta’s introduction of the Apple tax for advertisers on iOS apps highlights the conflict with Apple over digital ad space control and monetisation and this move, aimed at challenging Apple’s app store policies, could make advertising more costly and complicated for small businesses.