Apple suspends App Store gambling ads following backlash over placement update

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Apple has rolled back new ad placement rules on the App Store after adverts for gambling apps began to appear in ever greater numbers.

Earlier this week, Apple allowed developers and companies to advertise their apps on store pages for other apps by displaying their icon in the “you might also like” section and under the Today tab.

Prior to the update, the ad space in the Today tab used to feature a curated list of Apple’s recommendations, while the “you might also like” section suggested cards for similar apps.

However, just hours after the rule change, the volume of App Store gambling ads increased significantly.

In addition, prominent app developers and publishers expressed their frustration that gambling ads started to appear in their own App Store listings and that they had no control over it.

One of those developers was Marco Arment, former CTO at Tumblr.

He complained on Twitter that gambling ads had been displayed on the App Store page for his podcast app Overcast and “he was really not ok with it”.

“The App Store has corrupted such a great company so deeply,” Arment added.

Several other Twitter users also showed examples of inappropriate ad placement following Apple’s update, including a slot machine app being advertised alongside gambling addiction recovery apps and betting apps displayed on pages for apps for children.

Responding to the criticism, Apple yesterday (26 October) told MacRumors, a news website that focuses on Apple, that it has “paused ads related to gambling and a few other categories on App Store product pages”.

Thus far, it’s not known whether the tech giant’s rollback is only temporary; however, the term ‘pause’ suggests that gambling ads will return at a later date.

This is not the first time that Apple faced criticism for its advertising and app store policies.

In August, Bloomberg reported that Todd Teresi, Apple’s vice president in charge of advertising platforms, revealed that Apple’s ad business is generating about $4bn in revenue annually, and he wants to increase that to the double digits.

Teresi’s comments fuelled rumours that Apple would adopt a more aggressive advertising strategy.

Spotify just accused the iPhone maker of anti-competitive behaviour after it refused its new app three times and said this was “just one example across multiple years that shows how Apple is trying to control the entire internet ecosystem”.

Meta, meanwhile, complained that Apple was “undercutting others in the digital economy” when it decided to change its App Store terms to take a portion of social media advertising revenue.

About the author

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Sonja Lindenberg

Sonja Lindenberg is an experienced editor and journalist, with a strong focus on business, finance, trade and investment. She holds a degree in business journalism and throughout the past two decades has covered companies and industries in various markets and for different media, including newspapers, news agencies, inflight magazines, country reports and trade publications. Sonja joined iGaming NEXT in June 2022.

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