Apple has begun clamping down on apps with ads that offer in-app rewards for viewing videos and social sharing. Supplying in-game currency or other incentives, such as viewing an ad for another app has become common in freemium games. But some apps using those methods have been seeing rejections.
Since last week, per sources cited by TechCrunch and MacRumors, Apple has been rejecting apps that incentive social sharing and ads promoting other apps. Apple has a history of blocking apps on various grounds, in accord with its developer guidelines to help insure a better user experience.
The latest rejections specifically cite certain sections of the guidelines including 2.25, which states:
“Apps that display Apps other than your own for purchase or promotion in a manner similar to or confusing with the App Store will be rejected, unless designed for a specific approved need (e.g. health management, aviation, accessibility, etc.) or to provide significant added value for a targeted group of customers.”
Apple also cited another section (3.10), barring developers from iOS “who attempt to manipulate or cheat the user reviews or chart ranking in the App Store,” in rejecting an app for offering free in-game credits for watching videos of apps from other developers.
Considering that incentives for sharing games on social networks and for watching video ads are two widespread methods used by freemium apps, including Candy Crush, the Apple clampdown could have repercussions for app ad networks, such as Tapjoy and Flurry.
"In my opinion, ad networks will be stepping
up their efforts to win brand budgets,” said Dan Laughlin, vice president of business development at HyprMX, whose system powers incentivized video and other ads in apps and on the Web. He
suggested that because HyprMX didn’t focus on promoting app installs, it would be less likely to be affected by Apple’s stepped-up enforcement efforts.
A Flurry spokesperson said the company wasn't aware of publishers that use its system to monetize apps, including incentivized video ads, being rejected by Apple over its ads. But she added Flurry was monitoring the situation closely.
The crackdown on incentivized offers used by developers comes a week after Apple announced plans to overhaul the App Store in connection with its update of iOS 8. That will include an improved search capability, an “Explore feature, the ability to get multiple apps at once, and a new TestFlight beta testing system for developers.