Apple pre-empts location ad spam

So Apple are banning location based advertising apps, as a result of their recent purchase of Quattro Wireless. Well that would seem to follow the usual Apple control freakery, well I’m not  so sure..

I think Apple is actually doing the right thing, setting best practice for developing apps that use location.

What they actually say is..

“If you build your application with features based on a user’s location, make sure these features provide beneficial information. If your app uses location-based information primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location, your app will be returned to you by the App Store Review Team for modification before it can be posted to the App Store.”

In other words don’t just insert a location targeted ad into an application where is does not provide any benefit to the user. So you should not add a location targeted ad into your first person shooter game for pizza’s in Southampton, just because the user is in Southampton.

This is location ad spam.

On the other-hand if a user is looking for train times from their current location to Southampton, then ads from local business offering you food while you wait for the next train or offer alternative journey options via bus would be useful.

As with search ads this represents and example of advertising selection based on a users implicit intent, ignore these signals and as an app developer you would be spamming your users.

Written and submitted from my home (51.425N, 0.331W)

6 comments

  1. Tom Hughes

    Why is geo-targetted ad spam worse than non geo-targetted ad spam though?

    If an app is going to show arbitrary adverts then they might as well be targeted to the user’s current location surely?

  2. Andrew Larcombe

    Hi Ed,

    This time the devil is not in the detail but in the semantics. Whether Apple choose to apply a consistent interpretation of “primarily to enable mobile advertisers to deliver targeted ads based on a user’s location” is anyone’s guess. Your second example indicates how tricky this could be.

    I’d have thought a laissez-faire approach would have worked adequately – an app that had too much spam would be quickly uninstalled by a user. But let the user decide what is too much, not the store.

  3. Tom Hughes

    I don’t really see why geo-locating ad spam make it any worse that it already is – if anything it makes it better because it has slightly more chance of being relevant.

    If they’re concerned about untargeted adverts in applications then surely they should just ban that, regardless of whether or not they are geo-located…

  4. Roger Nolan

    Ed, I agree with your analysis. Using location just for Ad targetting without any other benefits to the user is spam – actually I think it’s more intrusive than it is spam. You should have good reason to request a user’s location and any ads should fit in the context of you app.

    That said, I think Apple could have handled this much better – their posting leaves some room for interpretation.

  5. Pingback: It’s Time to Stop LAMB (Location Based SPAM) Before It Even Exists | Gary's Bloggage

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