Apple’s lack of care with gaming app ads is a symptom of a bigger problem

Apple may argue about privacy, it may claim to put users first, but when its business relies on gambling advertisements, it strays even further from its stated principles and becomes a gambling company. ‘silver.

Composer: William Gallagher. Roulette: Free Walking Tour Salzburg on Unsplash

don’t expect Tim Cook to agree. But where the line is blurred between actual user privacy and exploiting privacy for profit, the line is as clear as a COVID test when it comes to whether or not Apple is profiting from the game. .

It’s not a direct connection, it’s not like Apple gets all the real money you put into virtual slots – but it does collect a fee for the in-app currency that apps from game can sell you. And it’s also just monetized how social media apps sell boosted posts. Even so, Apple can say it doesn’t sell gambling, it just sells ads, it’s not up to them what those ads are for.

In fact, it is. But save that for a moment. Apple’s own App Store guidelines have a bit to say on the gamebut the key is how apps must “clearly state that Apple is not a sponsor of, or involved in the activity in any way.”

Apple wants to distance itself from gambling, but it's not doing a very good job
Apple wants to distance itself from gambling, but it’s not doing a very good job

Apple doesn’t want to be associated with gaming in an app. But now, with advertising, it’s in it up to your neck. Apple takes money from gambling advertisers and no doubt places those ads where and when they are most likely to get a return for those companies.

Companies have a bit of a say, but it only makes things worse. Advertisers can choose explicitly to have their ads only appear “in different app categories than mine”.

Right now, this even includes when a commercial is simply in a list of kids’ apps.

I went to Apple’s “Our Favorite Apps for Kids” section on the App Store, selected an app, and received a gambling advertisement. Disagree, Apple.

Normally, there would be a good chance that Apple would fix this particular issue universally, and a good chance that we’d at least see fewer ads around kids’ apps given that the response to it has been so strong.

However, since the rollout of the new ads, software engineer Shac Ron has revealed how vehemently staff objected to the original plans for ads in the iOS App Store.

“When ads first appeared in the App Store in early beta versions of iOS, many of them were very upset,” he wrote. “It was an insult to our customers. We pushed back hard. After a meeting where management pretended to listen to our concerns, it was clear they had no intention of changing their minds.”

Ron also said he was “happy to see Apple getting raked over ads on iOS.”

If the reaction prompts to fix the more problematic ad placement, it will likely rely on an afflicted Apple ID account being in Family Sharing. This would also require Parental Controls to have been set up correctly.

And it also assumes that the app developers wrote their metadata correctly and honestly. Apple was not as thorough about developer honesty as he suggested.

Still, to be generous, this App Store ad is new, and like anything else, it takes time to settle in.

But the potential for this problem and its return is so great that no one at Apple can ignore it. Outside observers may have hoped for a more organized and cautious ad policy, but insiders had time to deliver — and apparently not.

Or they were just calamitous in implementing the new ads. It seems unlikely for a company willing to grow to $6 billion a yearbut there are signs:

Running an advertisement for a gaming app alongside an app aimed at helping players recover from their addition is no joke. We can only hope this is a mistake.

Overall, though, it was a choice to allow in-game ads, there was no filtering error, and so maybe we’re stuck with Apple bringing us the type of experience you expect from Android.

Also, even if Apple narrowed things down, we were left with the question of how much the company profits from gambling. The idea that it does not benefit at all is over.

Apple and its principles under fire

You can defend people’s right to choose gaming apps if they want to – and if they’re adults. It’s conceivable to argue that blocking ads for gambling apps would be a kind of censorship, although no one seems to vigorously object to Apple rejecting porn apps.

What’s not debatable is the direct causal relationship that now exists between gaming and some new revenue for Apple. And while it looks like a new thing, it’s a step up from what Apple claimed to represent.

Just as the company’s attempts to protect children are undermined by promoting gambling apps to them, so the company’s claim to be for creatives continues to crumble. For example, Apple’s famous “Shot on iPhone” campaign scammed photographers — up to criticism, including AppleInsider — got him arrested.

Apple keeps saying it supports developers, and it always cites numbers on how many jobs the iOS ecosystem has created around the world, but it’s good to stop people’s incomes. In 2018it ditched its App Store affiliate program, disabling a revenue stream that kept websites and publications running.

It’s easy to say that Apple has so much money it shouldn’t be so thankless, but of course you’re not profitable if you’re not paying close attention to the bottom line.

Only Apple is understandably extremely, but extremely financially savvy – it seems to hope the rest of us won’t be.

Apple Card has commendable features designed to help savvy users manage their money, for example, but you can be sure that many more users aren’t money careful. Apple Card’s big profits are based not only on fees per transaction, but also on a pile of interest from people who carry balances.

Then there’s the next Apple pay later, which is a Buy Now, Pay Later service. These are always controversial, but current economic conditions make them worse. The Guardian reports that a third of UK BNPL users Now I can not make their payments, and it’s not much better in the United States.

Loyalty to shareholders or customers

Apple is a business. Shareholders love money, and so does Apple.

That said, AppleInsider Editor-in-chief Mike Wuerthele has publicly stated that if Apple thinks it could garner some positive spirit share by becoming the company that kicks puppies, Tim Cook would lead every pitch with it.

Apple is not a charity and prides itself on its after-school programs. Apple has no obligation to help the homelessWhere fight against climate changeWhere education aid, and yet it does all these things. He hosts keynotes with them.

We don’t expect a big talk about gaming ads attached to gaming addiction recovery apps. We don’t think Apple will portray it as exemplary corporate behavior in its earnings.

What we are sure of is that it is a helping hand. We’re also sure that in a quarter or two there will be a noticeable increase in revenue for the company, in what they’ve repeated is a tough macro environment for this reason or that over the past decade.

Gaming apps, however, represent a billion-dollar rounding error in this notable bump. It’s the equivalent of the money Apple can squeeze out of the couch cushion. That’s probably less per year than Apple will save by being more selective in hiring.

The solution is simple – force advertiser app developers to provide accurate metadata information, or be rejected, as app review does for their apps for any factor exactly as if you were looking at the app from the right angle and just the right time of day, it gets rejected. Or let other app developers who have the ads on their App Store listings exclude ad categories from their app. But, Apple, in its wisdom, did neither.

Apple was once the best because it took into account the needs of users and turned away from their real exploitation. Apple is still the best, but it’s not because of that anymore – it’s now the best because it’s less terrible and exploits its customers less than others.

Update October 26, 6:37 p.m. ET An Apple spokesperson said AppleInsider that “We have suspended ads related to gambling and a few other categories on the App Store product pages.”

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Jennifer C. Burleigh