Apple poaches Weve's Pearman to lead UK search ads business

Apple is boosting its search advertising business for the App Store in the UK, recruiting Tom Pearman from Weve to take a senior role.

Pearman: leaving Weve after nearly five years
Pearman: leaving Weve after nearly five years

Pearman has joined Apple as manager of partner development for Search Ads UK, according to his LinkedIn profile.

He was previously managing director at Weve, where he spent nearly five years, and head of client sales at Microsoft, where he worked for four years.

Weve, the Telefonica-owned mobile advertising business, has promoted Martin Weller to be managing director and his previous role as head of sales has been taken by Will Goodacre.

Apple is investing in its ads business on the App Store, telling brands it is "the primary place where people come to find apps", with over 65% of downloads coming "directly from a search on the App Store".

The ads appear as the top result when a user uses the search function on the App Store and they are marked "Ad" with a blue tinted background.

Recent UK advertisers have included Tesco, delivery service Hungry House and gaming company Zynga.

Apple’s self-serve technology allows advertisers to buy ads directly from the tech giant, raising questions about whether it could be looking to bypass agencies.

"You don’t need to be a marketing expert," Apple says on its website, explaining that advertisers can "set up in just a few easy steps, and control as much as you want with budgeting tools, audience refinements, and detailed insights".

A recent Apple job ad for a Search Ads client partner in EMEA said the employee will to need "manage relationships with clients, developers and agencies in the performance marketing space".

Apple launched Search Ads on the App Store in October 2016.

One agency source said Search Ads are "just a chocolate chip on the top of the cake for Apple" because the company makes the vast majority of its revenue from selling hardware, chiefly iPhones.

"But it is probably looking at the $9bn [£6.8bn] of quarterly revenues at Facebook and $25bn at Google and thinking there’s a whole stack of small and medium-sized businesses that would be happy to buy ads from us," the source said.

"And if it puts a little bit of pressure on Facebook and Google, so much the better for Apple."

A second agency source said: "The vast majority of search spend goes into Google and a little bit into Bing. Apple Search ads is very small but it is growing and globally it will add up to something."

Apple said on its last earnings call in August that the App Store was "a major driver" of growth in its Services division and cited research from App Annie that suggests it generates nearly twice the revenue of customer purchases on Google Play.

Apple’s Search ads push comes as the iPhone giant imposes restrictions on cookies on its Safari web browser to reduce tracking by advertisers.

Apple and Amazon are both looking to bring in ad revenue as they eye the $200bn global digital ad market, which is dominated by Facebook and Google.

Amazon Advertising gave a private presentation at the IAB UK Upfronts in London last week.

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