On Tuesday, Apple announced that: companies can advertise their apps on the store pages for other apps, by placing their icon in the “You may also like” section. Almost immediately, developers started showing samples of gambling app advertisements that were recommended below their apps.
As MacRumors reporter Joe Rossignol points out that Apple has not clarified how long the hiatus would last, or that it will make policy changes based on how the initial rollout went. It’s also unclear which other ad categories have been paused.
apples rules for advertising in the App Store List apps related to gambling, alcohol, dating, and the pharmaceutical and medical industries as “restricted,” meaning there are special rules about where they can appear. The restrictions are mostly about laws rather than what’s tasteful or potentially harmful; the site says that gambling apps are “banned or restricted in some countries and regions,” but says nothing about the audience they can be served to.
How Apple operates could be very important to the future of the iPhone. Reports indicate that it plans to expand advertising beyond the App Store to apps such as Maps, Podcasts and Books. Imagine seeing a casino pop up when you’re looking for addiction recovery centers, or erotic novels when you’re looking for books on dealing with porn addiction.
The good news for Apple is that there are other companies that have worked on this issue that it can borrow ideas from, if not too proud to do so. For example, Google allows you to limit the amount of ads you see on potentially sensitive topics such as alcohol, gambling, dating, pregnancy, and weight loss. Apple talks a big game about how the App Store is a safe place to get software for your phone, and (despite the many ways it hasn’t proven that in the past) it needs to keep that look. But can it do that while also trying to show us ads when we open its apps?