iPhone App Ads Cause Controversy

John Lister's picture

Apple has come under fire on two fronts over changes to ads on its app store listings. Developers feel their apps are being undermined while parents have complained about promotions for gambling appearing beside child-focused apps.

The changes affect the way users see listings when browsing for apps on an iPhone. That means any changes have a big effect because screen space is so limited. Apple has now created extra ad spaces, one that appears in the main tab of the app store and one at the bottom of the page for an individual app. The ads are all for other iPhone apps.

Rival Apps Promoted

That's led to many developers getting upset that people viewing their listing (and thus considering their app) are being shown ads for rival apps. The ads appear to be chosen based on relevance to the original app's name, meaning that in some cases the ads are for similarly named imitation apps.

The developers say not only does this undermine their listings, but it creates a vicious circle where they feel pressured into "retaliation" advertising themselves, with Apple playing both sides and boosting its ad revenue. (Source: fosspatents.com)

The content of the ads also proved controversial with many promoting online gambling. In some cases the ads even appeared next to apps for kids.

Apple has now said "We have paused ads related to gambling and a few other categories on App Store product pages." It didn't give any further details.

Gambling Ads Unwanted

It's not just parents worried about the ads, though. Developers complained they didn't want ads for gambling appearing beneath their app listings and tainting them by association.

They also say that it's unfair that advertisers can choose which type of apps their ads appear besides, but app developers have no control over what ads appear on their listings pages.

While Apple has backtracked on the gambling ads, its unlikely to stop its overall move to increasing ads in its system. It's previously said it wants to take in $10 billion a year in ad revenue, making it a rare example of a tech company that generates major profits from hardware, software and advertising. (Source: macrumors.com)

What's Your Opinion?

Should Apple carry ads for gambling apps? Should developers be able to limit the types of ads that appear on their listings? Will such moves backfire by deterring developers or is Apple too powerful to worry about that?

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