Apple Still Not Budging on 'Offer Wall' Apps

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Back in April, Apple began cracking down on so-called "offer wall" services for iOS applications that incentivize users with virtual currency or other compensation for downloading and installing other applications. The services have been cited as a mechanism for unfairly boosting app download numbers and thus chart performance.

GigaOM follows up with Mihir Shah of Tapjoy, one of the major players in the incentivized install market, and learns that Apple has yet to yield on the issue, despite several proposals by Tapjoy that the company believes would address Apple's concerns over tainted chart performance.

Tapjoy CEO Mihir Shah said he reached out to Apple three weeks ago and offered to include a referral URL for the App Store when a user chooses to download an app in exchange for virtual goods. That would allow Apple to identify that the download came from Tapjoy and not count it in the App Store ranking algorithm. Shah said Apple wrote back a couple days later saying it had no time to discuss the issue.

Shah had previously proposed limiting his company's offer wall campaigns to prevent any of the participating apps from entering the Top 25 rankings via the program, but that proposal was also rejected by Apple.

Tapjoy remains confused over Apple's stance on the issue, wondering if there is more to the story than Apple has so far admitted, given that the Tapjoy has made several attempts to address Apple's concerns and has yet to receive any sort of positive response or even discussion.

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123 months ago
They’re confused? They want Apple to add (and then debug and maintain forever) additional code and processes to the App Store, just to support the TapJoy system? If Apple did that for everyone who wanted to create a new business model for the App Store, things would get complex and unwieldy for Apple pretty fast!

This particular new feature may not sound complex, but I can understand Apple not adding bloat for little benefit to users. And it’s users, even more than developers, that Apple is looking out for.

I do feel bad for app developers who signed on with TapJoy (et al) as their way to get an income for their hard work on a free app. However, they can resort to trying conventional ads if need be.
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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123 months ago
Agreed. No-one really *wants* this stuff, do they?
Score: 2 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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123 months ago
While I see Apple's view and respect their decision, I have to state that I have found a few good apps via the "offer wall." Spamming the Top 25 list is bad, but Tapjoy offered a fix. If downloading an app is all I have to do to get free coins/stars/jewels/etc.. rather then paying in-app purchases, I'm all over it.

But apparently, I'm part of the very small minority who feels this way.
Score: 1 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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123 months ago

They could have just as easily switched to another ad service, such as AdMob. I don't see how shutting it down necessarily means iAd is the obvious alternative.


It's not that easy. eCPM from AdMob and iAds is minuscule compared to incentivized installs, that it's no longer sustainable to make freemium apps. Also, on the other side of the equation is user acquisition. Traditional models like iAds and AdMob don't offer pay-per-installs, meaning you end up paying more to acquire a user than that user's lifetime value, making that user, for a lack of better word, worthless.

Even when you've got a good app, it's a real crap shoot when it comes to marketing your app. Big guys like ngmoco and zynga can work back room deals with Apple and get featured apps and they'll be fine, but incentivized offerwalls offered smaller devs like myself an excellent advertising option.
Score: 0 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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123 months ago
It's pretty simple. Apple doesn't want to "support" any potential competition to iAd. I play DJ Rivals and the TapJoy app installs got me lots of free "ice" to use in the game... But once Apple shut TapJoy down, DJ Rivals immediately switched to iAd, so now I have the iAd banner when I open DJ Rivals. ;)

I guess if Apple doesn't want to play nice with TapJoy, then the game developers need to quickly sign on with iAd and GameCenter instead to protect at least a portion of their revenue streams.

...If you can't beat em' join em'!
Score: 0 Votes (Like | Disagree)
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123 months ago

They’re confused? They want Apple to add (and then debug and maintain forever) additional code and processes to the App Store, just to support the TapJoy system?


Did you see the part where TabJoy offered to limit the number of their own wall?
That would require NO change or flexability on Apple's part besides not being bullheaded about a service someone wants to offer.

They seem to be more confused because Apple is denying an app that provides a service that some users want, and would also provide additional revenue to Apple. It's a win-win-win. But Apple is just being a bitch about an app that in essence is using and automating Apple's own app gifting functionality for the convenience of users.

I totally agree with TapJoy, that Apple's actions are not rational, and with their suspicion that "there is more to the story than Apple has so far admitted".
Apple has already shown that it will use the apps in it's own store as new feature research, in that any lucrative or successful app in it's store is under threat from Apple to be copied by Apple (and then possibly punted from the store for duplicating Apple functionality).
(Granted Apple has yet to punt Feint since Apple released their Game Center, but they could at pretty much any time.)

I wouldn't be surprised if sometime in the future Apple releases an update to the App store with deal-walls like TapJoy's. (Then kick TapJoy out.)
Hopefully TapJoy has a good legal team to defend their IP.
Score: 0 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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