Why Developers Are Unhappy About New Ads in the App Store

The App Store’s new ad placements allow developers to advertise their apps outside their categories, but they aren’t happy about this change.

Apple recently rolled out new ad placements in the App Store on the iPhone, which allowed developers to advertise in more places on the App Store. This included ads on the Today tab, and the “You Might Also Like” section at the bottom of specific app listings.

After several complaints from prominent developers about shady gambling ads appearing on the platform, Apple has decided to pause ads related to gambling and a few other categories from the App Store pages. We’ve detailed the entire situation below, so continue reading.

Apple Has Introduced More Ads to the App Store

Apple recently announced in an email to developers it will be introducing app-related ads in the App Store’s main Today tab and “You Might Also Like” section at the bottom of individual app listings.

These ads launched on October 25th, 2022, in all countries except China, and have a blue background and an “Ad” icon.

This is the first time developers will be able to run ads in the Today tab, which previously only displayed content picked by the App Store’s editorial staff.

The Problem With App Store Ads

With more ads showing up on the iPhone, Apple allows advertisers to display their ads in app categories different from their own app’s category, allowing gambling apps to appear in listing for unrelated apps.

Many developers reported this a few hours after the change while also complaining about distasteful ads for gambling and other unrelated apps appearing in their own App Store listings outside their control.

Other developers have noted that many of the ads appearing under their own apps were shady and not something established companies would like to associate with their products.

Gambling has always been a controversial topic on the App Store, as many users and developers have found the category predatory to users, especially those recovering from a former addiction. The practice is either highly regulated or completely illegal in different countries, so we’re curious to see how Apple monitors advertising for such apps in different countries.

Florian Mueller, a legal expert, also notes that the advertisements on an app’s listing are essentially another means of increasing the effective app tax rate, as famous developers will be forced to buy ads on their own app pages to make sure competitors can steer customers away from there.

Apple Pauses Gambling Ads After Outcry

Unsurprisingly, only a few hours later, Apple decided to pause ads related to gambling and a few other categories after the complaints started coming in.

In an official statement to MacRumors, Apple said:

We have paused ads related to gambling and a few other categories on App Store product pages.

We’re not sure if the pause is only temporary or permanent, and we’re yet to see what policy Apple takes up on gambling ads popping up in unrelated categories on the App Store.

Has Apple Taken Its Ads Too Far?

Apple will keep the new advertisement placements in the App Store, but the question arises—is Apple losing track of the bigger picture? Apart from developers, many users are also unhappy about this change, as they expect a better-quality product (without ads) from Apple.

On the other hand, Apple has made it clear that it intends to increase its advertising revenue, despite the company already being one of the richest and most profitable in the world. The company also plans to introduce search result ads or keyword-targeted ads in Apple Maps next year.

It’ll be interesting to see what Apple does next and how it plans to regain the trust of developers with its advertisement system.

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