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Apple Reverses Course on Ban for Apps Incentivizing Ad Watching, Social Sharing

Earlier this month, Apple began cracking down on some of the methods developers use to monetize their apps, rejecting some apps that offered rewards for viewing videos and sharing content on social networks.

Developers were understandably upset about this policy change, as offering opt-in ads in the form of rewards for video watching provided a way to generate revenue without significantly disrupting gameplay. Providing in-game currency, extra lives, or another incentive for watching an advertisement has become common in freemium games.

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Apple now appears to have reversed course on its decision to reject apps for using these promotional methods, with TechCrunch noting that Apple has ceased rejecting apps for using incentivized ads and has changed its opinion on some previously rejected apps.
Now we're hearing that things have changed.

Sources in the video ad industry have reported that app rejections related to this matter have now declined, indicating the policy is being rolled back.

We're also hearing that some of the initial, and more worrisome, rejections are being undone -- that is, the apps are being allowed back in the App Store.
While Apple is allowing developers to continue to offer an in-app reward for users who watch a video or post about an app on social media, the company is still rejecting apps that offer incentives to users for reviewing an app, rating an app, or downloading another app, as reviews and ratings can affect an app's position on the Top Charts.

Manipulating the App Store charts is explicitly forbidden in Apple's app guidelines under rule 3.10, which states that developers who attempt to "manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store with fake or paid reviews or any other inappropriate methods" can be removed from the Developer program. Thus, under Apple's new rules, developers appear to be able to allow users to watch ads for other apps, but are unable to encourage users to download those apps.
Basically, developers are fine to reward viewing video ads, whether for their own apps, those belonging to others, or brand ads, but they can't reward anything that also has a direct download piece to it.
This change will likely be a relief to developers who rely on such incentives to promote their apps to a wider audience. iOS 8 is will also bring several changes to the App Store that will help increase app discovery, including an improved App Store search algorithm, an "Explore" feature that makes it easier to find apps, and app bundles that offer several apps together for a discounted price.

Top Rated Comments

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4 weeks ago
I wish there was an option to search on the App Store for apps that have no ads, or for apps with no in app purchases.
Rating: 29 Votes
4 weeks ago
Well that didn't last long at all. I was hoping this was the start of a much needed change so this is disappointing news indeed.
Rating: 15 Votes
4 weeks ago
That's a good correction. The initial change was a bit too draconian. What's wrong with opting in to watch an ad?
Rating: 9 Votes
4 weeks ago
I've given up on iOS games for the most part. They're all this freemium crap anyway. Ended up purchasing a 3DS XL instead. Having much more fun :o
Rating: 7 Votes
4 weeks ago
Oh, darn, I guess I'll have to stick to using my measly intellect to discern cheap, IAP-driven apps from quality, lovely apps. This should be incredibly difficult. :rolleyes:

Seriously, if you don't like freemium apps, avoid them. They're great revenue generators for those who develop them and hours of fun for those who like them.
Rating: 6 Votes
4 weeks ago

That's a good correction. The initial change was a bit too draconian. What's wrong with opting in to watch an ad?


Even if the change wasn't draconian, it still underscores the fundamental problem with Apple's App Store policies. They are arbitrary, and Apple changes them far too easily, without any notice.

Apple needs to have a well laid out process which potentially includes a developer input step so a dev doesn't wake up in the morning having quit his day job based on the sales of his app in the past year, only to find Apple has yanked his app from the store.

Apple's current policies create tremendous uncertainty for devs.
Rating: 5 Votes
4 weeks ago
The app store feels like a flea market now. It has thousands of incredibly bad apps trying to deceive people into giving them a top position in the charts, with clone after clone, while the very few really good apps get lost in the sea of mediocrity.
Rating: 5 Votes
4 weeks ago

That's a good correction. The initial change was a bit too draconian. What's wrong with opting in to watch an ad?


whats wrong with playing and app and not having ads at all?

what next, knives forks and spoons that give you an electric shock unless you listen to an add mid meal :p

ads are bloody everywhere :(
Rating: 5 Votes
4 weeks ago

whats wrong with playing and app and not having ads at all?

what next, knives forks and spoons that give you an electric shock unless you listen to an add mid meal :p

ads are bloody everywhere :(


Developers have to make money or you wouldnt have good apps. Look at where the app store has come in 6 years. Apps were expensive and the free ones were bad at the start. Take away the money and the good talent will develop for something else...
Rating: 4 Votes
4 weeks ago

I dont think so anymore, maybe a few years ago yes. But now with all the freemium out there not many people are wanting to pay anythign up front.


Actually, when I see a game that costs a few bucks up front, has reasonably good ratings and no "In app purchases" badge, I'm more likely to buy it than to download a freemium game.
Rating: 3 Votes

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