If you live in the western part of the world and have a Samsung phone running One UI, you know about those pesky ads Samsung likes to drop in its first-party apps. You also probably know that they are going away soon because the company decided to stop doing it. This is great news for everyone, including Samsung.
No, I’m not crazy. Nor am I saying that Samsung should make decisions that cut its profits. I am saying that it seems like the whole mess wasn’t worth it, and Samsung comes out on top for getting rid of them.
First, the part that a lot of folks will disagree with: these ads weren’t really that big of a deal. You saw ads in the Samsung Weather app, Samsung Pay, the Samsung Phone app, and a few other places. Sometimes these apps are for Samsung services or apps built exclusively for Samsung by third parties, but sometimes they were ads for KFC or Yahoo. The worst ones were push-notification style ads that appear in your notification bar. None of them blocked any content or added to the vast amount of data Samsung collects.
Yes, it’s difficult to swallow the fact that you have to see advertisements placed by the company you just gave $1,000 (or more) when you bought the best Android phone from them. And I’m with you in thinking that this is a shitty way to treat your customers. Imagine if Toyota put ads in the instrument panel of a new car.
But Samsung isn’t the only company that sells a bazillion phones every year and puts ads in its own apps — Apple does the same thing in the same way. I know that many people reading this will have never used an iPhone, so I’m here to tell you that the App Store, the News app, the Stocks app, and even the Settings app on the iPhone have ads in them. Sometimes for Apple products or services, sometimes for Quicken Loans.
With your new Samsung phone, you can swap out the apps that have ads for ones that don’t and make them the default. On an iPhone, you really can’t do the same. For some reason though, the tech press and the users called for heads to roll at Samsung over ads in “stock” apps while Apple often gets a pass. I can’t explain it, but I can say that the practice isn’t only a Samsung thing and nobody was ever harmed by an ad in a Samsung app.
This doesn’t mean we should sit back and enjoy them or stay quiet. I’ve complained about them just like you have. But it wasn’t enough to swear off Samsung forever unless you never really wanted to use a Samsung phone but really liked to complain about the company via the internet. But enough of me saying things that make people angry. Sorry, I just call it as I see it.
The bigger story here is all about the what. What finally spurred Samsung to pull the ads out of its apps? The first thing I always look at is the money. I have pored through every transcript of Samsung’s earnings calls for the past two years, but I can’t find anywhere that the company said it was making money as an ad platform.
Samsung spends a lot on ads but makes very little from hosting them.
There is plenty of talk about the company spending money to advertise but none saying that having ads in the weather app turned a profit. That’s expected because Google and Facebook do everything in their power to make all the money from all the ads. There’s no room left for anyone else to squeeze in right now, not even a company as wealthy as Samsung.
The only thing I could come up with after thinking about it for a few days is that Samsung did it as a gesture of goodwill to its most loyal customers. They are the customer who buys a new Samsung phone every year and isn’t interested in trying a device from anyone else. Those are the people most affected and the people who yell the loudest.
The “vocal minority” wins this time, and we all get to benefit. Hooray!
If Samsung wasn’t making a lot of money from ads anyway, dropping them to appease customers is a smart move. Anshel Sag, senior analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy told me the same thing: “I think the ad removals will be beneficial to the company. Many users find it intrusive and obnoxious.” In a nutshell, making customers happy is better than making a few dollars by hosting ads.
In any case, I’m happy to see it just like you are. An ad in the phone app or even one in the notification bar from the company you just handed a bunch of money to seems kind of scummy even if it doesn’t take away from the experience very much. Pulling them out of One UI will quell the complaints, and Samsung’s really not losing anything in the end.
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