Apple’s New Ads Could Fool You

March 15, 2016, 1:28 PM UTC

Apple users could be in for a surprise as the company debuts its new ads for Apple News. But then again, maybe they won’t even notice the change.

The new ad format for the news app is designed to put banner ads more seamlessly side by side with regular articles in the news feed. It’s a shift for the app, which previously hosted barely any sponsored content, as Business Insider reports.

Apple (AAPL) tells Fortune the new native news ads, which debuted in January, are “intended to blend in with their surrounding” distinguished only by a sponsored tag in the bottom corner of the screen. That means the content is virtually indistinguishable from regular news stories:

A mock-up of one of the new Apple News Ads. Image from Apple
Apple for developers

The Apple News app launched last year and over 100 publishers, including Fortune parent company Time Inc., signed on to the service. But Time CEO Joe Ripp said revenue from the app last year was underwhelming.

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Though the company says at least 40 million people across the U.S., U.K., and Australia have tried out the service, Apple admitted earlier this year that the company’s not really sure how many people are reading Apple News on a regular basis. The service requires iOS 9, so it’s not available on all Apple devices.

For more on the Apple News app, watch:

Meanwhile, other mobile giants are clambering to serve up faster reading for mobile phones. Both Google AMP and Facebook Instant Articles are working to kill load times for articles. Facebook (FB) Instant Articles for mobile can load up to 10 seconds faster than average, making them more click-friendly and share-friendly, while Google (GOOGL) AMP pages load faster and can show up higher in searches.


Correction: (Mar. 16 3:00 E.T.) An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that the new ads will be debuting in March. Apple tells Fortune the new ad format has been available to publishers since mid-January. This post has been updated accordingly.

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