The ad business hasn't worked out for Apple. According to BuzzFeed News, Apple is strongly diminishing its role in the iAd platform, which it launched in 2010 to let developers easily insert advertisements into their apps. Rather than acting as an intermediary between advertisers and content partners — be it app developers or publications on Apple News — as it's done in the past, Apple will reportedly set up a system that allows ad sellers and publishers to work things out on their own. In exchange, Apple will no longer being taking a 30 percent cut of iAd sales, letting publishers keep all of their revenue.
It isn't often that Apple gives up on what could be a very profitable endeavor, but iAd hasn't gotten much attention from the start. By transitioning iAd to a free service, Apple is at least able to compete with other ad networks — like Google's — on price. Apple doesn't need the ad money, so using free iAds as however slim of a shot at chipping away at Google's business may still be a better use than having iAds bring in a negligible amount of added revenue. In a Wall Street Journal article the other day, Apple's Eddy Cue actually mentioned that a self-service iAd platform would be coming within the next two months. That seems to be exactly what BuzzFeed is talking about here; the important new detail is that the self-service platform also means the end of Apple's own sales team.