Apple removes iAds from kid-centric iOS apps

Wed, May 11, 2011


Apple’s iAd initiative has gotten off to a somewhat staggered start. While some advertisers are touting high levels of engagement and higher than expected click through rates, many have complained about Apple’s arguably draconian level of involvement and expensive buy-in rates.

But overall, iAds have been rolling along and picking up advertisers slowly but surely. A new change to Apple’s iAds program, however, might rub some developers the wrong way.

Mark Zornek is the developer behind Dex, a free kid-centric (i.e Pokeman browsing) iPhone and iPod Touch app. Recently, Zornek detailed on his blog that Apple’s iAds have stopped showing up in his app, effectively taking away one of the means Zornek was able to support the free app in the first place.

Upon noticing his iAd fill rate drop down to 0%, Zornek emailed Apple to figure out what was going on.

Apple’s response reads as follows:


Hello Michael,

We periodically review the apps in the iAd Network to ensure that all apps receiving ads are aligned with the needs of our advertisers. Currently, our advertisers prefer that their advertising not appear in applications that are targeted for users that are young children, since their products are not targeted at that audience.

We appreciate your understanding.

Best Regards,

iAd Network Support Apple, Inc. 1 Infinite Loop Cupertino, CA 95014

“And that’s how an iAd supported version of Dex died,” Zornek writes. “No warning, no notice and inevitably no respect to the developers who have centered their app’s revenue model around the iAd platform.”

Okay, a few things.

First of all, it makes perfect sense that Apple wouldn’t want to run iAds on kid based apps. Advertisers typically want to reach out to a specific demographic and unless we’re talking morning cartoons, kids with an interest in Pokeman doesn’t rank on the list of priorities. Besides, many of the companies signed up with iAds are premium brands that hold no interest with kids. What’s the point, after all, in advertising products to a group of people with little to no interest in clicking through?

At the same time, Apple could have been a lot more transparent with its developers. You can’t really go wrong with being honest, and it wouldn’t have taken much effort from Apple to matter-of-factly reach out to developers with kid-based apps and tell them that iAds wouldn’t be an option for them.

“Furthermore,” Zornek continues, “there is no documentation of this change. Nothing is on the iAd developer page to alert people that the current fill rate for apps and games targeted at kids is zero.”

For the time being, Dex will remain a free app, though Zornek will eventually have to transition to a pay model for some of the apps premium features in order to keep things going.



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