I built a game and naively added ads to it as it seemed a good way to monetize. The game started to be really liked, and had 300k+ downloads overall. Many kids started playing it also.
Luckily I realized quickly that kids play on the devices of parents and so the ads they might see are at times super inappropriate!
Then I removed all ads, I'd rather make less money but have people play and have a good time. Its not always about money. At times I get contacted by players, how they love the game and how it has been part of their childhood etc. Some very moving messages, worth more then a few additional bucks from ads and I feel much better because players aren't exposed to random ads, pictures and messages.
The learning for me was that I will never work on anything that uses ads as source of income, this includes turning down jobs at Google and Facebook.
I have my professional job developing software solutions for clients on a contractual base, but for a period after I graduated university I dabbled in mobile development and made the decision during that time that I'd never bloat my crappy apps with ads or tracking. I can't particularly articulate why I'm against that business method as a whole, but something always felt wrong in subjecting people to tracking/advertisements for my own monetary gain... if I'm not producing something worth paying outright for then I'm not going to skim pennies off the privacy of my users.
I'm not sure I morally disagree with advertising or tracking. (In my case, my websites are aimed at adults and there are no concerns about children seeing inappropriate content.) It's not about the morality or even the tracking for me. I personally don't even mind tracking all that much (though I know I'm in a tiny minority on HN).
I just, simply, really fucking hate looking at ads. They're annoying and distracting and ugly and will make any decent-looking website look tacky and dumb. And I thought, if I would never want to browse my own website and see ads, why should I subject other users to them? Sure, I use an ad blocker, and most of my users probably do, too, but I'm sure there are many who don't. And there're also the practical concerns about ads affecting page load performance and bandwidth consumption, but that's a more minor consideration.
I also try to avoid commercials and video pre-roll ads (even those HBO ones advertising other HBO shows), and I skip past all ad/sponsor parts of podcasts and YouTube videos. I can only think of a single time in my life that an ad led to a purchase, and that was from a YouTuber I liked doing an absurd segment that unexpectedly turned the entire 10 minute video into an over-the-top ad for the sponsor, and it was funny and well-written and well-executed and was something I was already planning to get and seemed to be a good deal and a good product, so I actually did buy it a week or so later. That's one exception out of hundreds of thousands or millions, though.
I admit I do feel what might be a kind of revulsion at the thought of huge companies like Google and Facebook making advertising their primary revenue source, or the thought of some of our world's top minds being paid amazing salaries to figure out how to get more people to look at and click ads. But I think it just comes down to me not wanting to see or hear them. They waste my time and/or much of my visual field, and are an eye/ear-sore, and I'd like to do unto others as I would want them to do unto me.
This seems to me like one of those spots where one's approach to ethics can play a big part in the conclusions you draw.
From a sort of Kant-style, deontological perspective, where you have to be able to say with confidence that something is morally wrong in order to make much of a judgment at all about it, yeah, it seems hard to mount a strong case against ads.
From a more Bentham-style utilitarian approach, it's easier: Are ads and tracking a net benefit or detriment to people in general? AFAICT, the only people who try to mount a case that the answer is yes are people whose livelihoods depend on everyone being OK with ads.
Then there's the "do unto others" approach you get from virtue ethics. The GP's take of, "I'm not going to monetize with ads because ads annoy me" reminds me of that.
It's interesting, because, if you could paint those three approaches to ethics with a broad brush, the latter two would be, "Let's try and make things as nice for everyone as possible," while the first would be more like, "As long as it's not actually evil, ¯\_(ツ)_/¯"
Playing devil's advocate... Advertising helps the world in the case where a person has a need and they see an ad that informs them of a way they hadn't considered to address that need, and that solution proves to be better than available alternatives.
... I'm sure that happens ever. I am skeptical that it's enough to net positive.
If ads had never been allowed, would search be more like AOl's keywords? Would we still be limited to 10MB in email storage? Think what you will, but Google has developed a ton of impressive technology and open sourced quite a bit of it; they have been much more open stewards than I would expect if AOL and IBM and Microsoft built out the internet.
(They have also given everyone a ton of value without asking for money from users -- it's important to not underestimate how far we've come on the backs of the ad dollar).
It might be a faustian bargain, or it might not be.
What Google really pushed forward was SaaS and the free price tag was a trick to make it seem as good as open source.
But when it comes down to it, Gmail is worse than Windows 7 when it comes to user power. At least you can use windows 7 without a constant connection to Microsoft.
IBM has more of a consultancy perspective: they want rheur business customers to pay for services provided on top of existing solutions. And open source platforms make it easier to sell custom extensions.
I will say, however, that your claims would be challenging to verify or refute -- quantity of contributions may not be a good metric, and it appears your Gmail/Win7 comparison is based on a single dimension (user power) which is further limited to one dimension of that dimension (whether it requires a constant connection).
You may be correct, but your comment didn't provide much of an argument to get me to think more of the problem. It just seemed like you needed to negate my (also unsubstantiated but admittedly devil's advocate position) out of some sense of anti-google sentiment.
Not sure how that's related to ads. I've been online since 1996, and AOL wasn't available in my country, although did get those AOL trial diskettes with my copy of C&C: Red Alert.
Xcite, Yahoo, Altavista, Askjeeves and others simply had a search box and an alphabetical directory of sites. I didn't hear about Google until 1999 when I came across a Time Magazine article about it, and there were ads on the internet well before then.
Are you sure ads are related?
If you calculate the cost of 10MB of hard drive space in the good old days of Yahoo mail, adjust for inflation, calculate how much hard drives you can buy now for that money, you’ll get at least 100GB. I don’t think average gmail mailbox approaches that size.
Then Google conquered the market with very low-key unobtrusive ads, and I was fine with them. I had no problem with tracking, because it lead to more relevant and less annoying ads.
But in the past couple of years, tracking and ads are touching on absolutely everything I do online. Google for an accountant, and for the next month all videos on Youtube have ads for accountants. Read an article on something, and suddenly all ads are about that.
And with these ad companies also controlling our social media and our online search results, suddenly my entire view of the internet, and therefore my view of the world, becomes controlled by people who want to show me ads to sell me stuff.
It's too controlling and too intrusive, and I have no control over it. Maybe if they make it more transparent and gave me more control over what they show me, I'd be fine with it, but at the moment it's too much.
Only seeing informative ads about things I'm interested in is good. Having my entire experience controlled by people who want to monetize my information is not.
Just because someone, either by choice or necessity (have you tried to stop using all ad-supported resources? You've practically gotta be a hermit) participates in something they find morally wrong, doesn't cease to make it morally wrong.
What is a fact is that some are perfectly content having others pay for services they use while, at the sane time, trying to weave a fake moral framework with which to justify their actions.
Nobody is forcing anyone to use these sites, and you don’t have to.
The required ethical conclusion is not "inconvenience yourself so you can be more respectable", it's far more extreme than that. What about saving other people from it, or activism to ban it completely, like we restrict noise pollution and physical manipulation of strangers?
Using ad-supported services and an ad-blocker might be unethical theft, but the anti-advertising position is against-adverts not how to treat Google fairly; it's not about being "ethically aligned".
If, when clicking on a hyperlink, I were presented with a landing page where I'd be presented a diagram of what the page would look like, in order to inform me that 70% of the initial data mass of the page would be chumbox, and that there'd be a video that expands out of the middle of the article and starts playing automatically as I scroll past, etc etc, then I'd happily rely on that instead of an adblocker. But that's not what happens - instead, I click the link, and the page immediately starts eating up my data budget (which costs me money, yo) and attempting to track me. My best defense here is to use some sort of adblocker.
At which point, the equilibrium point seems to be, some sites I don't even necessarily know they're trying to serve ads to me. Other sites give me a little popup saying, "Disable adblock or GTFO," so I politely GTFO.
It's less possible to do anything on that front with outdoor advertising; annoying as a lot of it is, I can't very well stop consuming the world itself.
TV, radio, stuff like that, that's at least getting easy nowadays.
I do like Google's services, and I do understand they couldn't exist without ads, so I know there's a little bit of cognitive dissonance there. But for me, if I can block the ads, then I'm not going to complain. The only time I boycott a site is if they lock you out of the site if they detect you're using an ad blocker. (I'm okay with small messages politely suggesting you turn it off if they don't otherwise restrict access to the site. I always ignore them, though.)
I don't see that option in these services.
You can also start paid versions of these services and show them how it’s done. People who don’t want ads are sure to flock to your services.
And that's just where these services are being up front. There's a lot of sneaky underhand tracking that goes on without even being aware of it.
I stay with safe ad categories (no drugs, alcohol, gambling, adult content, etc), and use standard display sizes. No audio ads, background ads, popups, etc. I'm sure the site could generate twice the revenue with background advertisements.
Anyway, I just wanted to give a slightly different perspective. Although I hate advertising as much as you, my site doesn't work with community donations. So, I use advertising to keep it alive, and try to draw a line somewhere I think is appropriate.
How do you know it "doesn't work with community donations" when you have no measures to help deal with the tragedy of the commons?
I refused to show ads because they were all ticket brokers / scalpers.
It is actually kind of a pain and takes work to raise money this way. For me, I had to do a personal appeal, email drips, and I even added membership status indicators to usernames and gave access to “exclusive” content.
It did work though with the thermometer thingy and some pluck.
I don't blame GP for wanting to make some money - they're certainly putting in some otherwise unpaid hours. But a "Target 0" system could work well for some communities.
I can't tell you how many times someone has said to me "why do you guys send out those letters? Everyone just throws them out." Do you know why? Because we see how much they cost, and how much they make, and it's worth it.
This guy is actually running a community site that's paying for itself. Do not question him, especially by proposing one tiny little strategy among the thousands that might work.
I don't think this advice of "if you haven't done it you can't criticize or ask questions about it" is very good. It would bar me from commenting on and criticizing Michael Bay movies, so no thank you.
I'd also like to know if the guy shuts off the ads when he makes more than is needed for maintenance costs.
1. That's my bill for hosting and bandwidth expenses. I obviously need to consider the cost of my time which is not included in that figure. The more money the site generates, the more time I invest in it. So, if it were to generate $150,000 from advertising, I wouldn't shut it off, but I'd start pulling my time out of other projects, and moving it into this community site to add more of the requested features.
2. I want to save for a rainy day. Online communities don't last forever. It would be short sighted to shut off advertising simply because this years expenses are met, and then two years from now I need to close up the site because advertising is falling short. When the site hits a rough patch, I want the savings to either push it through or pivot. Coasting on maintenance costs would be a dangerous road with an abrupt end.
I've heard that line from people raking in several hundred thousand a year, while they still callously heap ads on their audiences.
If you have no target, neither for your site nor for your personal ambition, it seems like the veneer of "I tried to avoid them but couldn't" is really quite thin.
There has got to be a niche available for somebody to do plain old non-evil advertising???
EDIT $15,000 a year sounds like a tremendous amount of money to run a web site in 2019 ...
If my costs were anywhere close to that I think I'd have no choice but to suck it up and place some ads as well. As it is, community donations cover our costs just fine, but pretty much 100% of that revenue - which is all of our revenue - goes to infrastructure cost. We don't make any profit, but that was never the intention when creating the sites.
What I don't like is ads that use psychological devices to try to get me to buy their product. I also don't like ads that are a distraction of the content I'm trying to consume. So when playing a game, if the ad scroll at the bottom of the screen is flashy, I can't easily play that game so I give up. Now an ad that shows on a loading screen may be more acceptable, as long as the contents of the ad aren't something that would get me fired if someone at work sees it.
Finally, if I'm already doing research for something (such as browsing through the Bose headphones site), I don't want to see ads for those same headphones that I already researched, following me around on all the web pages I visit. It just really feels like someone is stalking me. Or look through a site like rvtrader, then when you look up the weather the next day you see a bunch of camper ads. Again, stalking. It's gotten to the point where I constantly browse in a private browsing tab (yes, there are ways they can still track me, but they aren't as obvious about it).
But then other people in your house get the ads too...
> Derek! Have you been shopping for RVs again?!?!
However, I think it’s completely reasonable to say talk to your doctor about ED or whatever. If there is only one treatment they seem similar, but when several options exist people should not be pushing for a specific drug based on an ad campaign.
- We've decided (in the US at least, but most everywhere short of a few communist or communist-adjacent countries) that the way we incentivize and reward drug researchers is by having them work for pharmaceutical companies that profit on the free market—and in particular that drugs are valuable to society and worth researching in proportion to how much profit they bring.
- If you don't know that a certain medical condition is a medical condition, you might not seek treatment for it, or you might not recognize it at all. In particular, rare diseases by their nature are those that many doctors don't know how to diagnose, and new treatments by their nature won't have been part of those doctors' curriculum.
- There are few means of reliably pushing information to the general public outside of advertising.
Therefore advertising "talk to your doctor about this condition" (and perhaps "whether certain drugs might be right for you") is both a rational / logical response within this framework and exactly what the framework wants you to do.
If we want to get rid of it, let's redesign the framework: reward drug researchers in some way other than profits, or find out how to inform either doctors or patients about new treatments in some other way.
Maybe it’s a symptom of lacking a national healthcare system but we manage fine without drug advertising in the UK and elsewhere in Europe. In our case advertising and sales are aimed towards Doctors.
My friend who is an independent prescribing nurse in the NHS [which means she can go off-piste like a regular doctor writing arbitrary prescriptions, she's not just limited to a handful of standard recipes to solve well understood problems] says after she qualified her blow-out birthday party was entirely paid for by drug reps out of their marketing budgets. These days that would get them fired, and the best you can hope for is stress toys, stationery, that sort of thing.
But I wasn't there to watch TV so I filed it as the next weird cultural artifact where the USA is in fact exactly as advertised worldwide on TV and film instead of made-up by a crazy screenwriter :)
So it's illegal in Norway for my 12-year-old cousin to beat my highscore in Pacman?
Gaming, as in like video games and board games are banned? Seriously?
Similar to how Spotify with ads includes Trojan condom commercials, which makes Spotify-with-ads unusable in many situations
1. Ads ruins user experience. This is pretty much an objective fact. People can and do adapt, but it's moving away from the ideal.
2. Ads often manipulates the user (emotionally, psychologically) to get clicks, which is just downright unethical.
3. Often unethical things are advertised, things that shouldn't even be on the market. These are usually rolled into an ad network, and ad embedders don't get a say in what's shown or not.
3. If we removed 99.99% (or maybe 100%) of all ads, I can't imagine that people will have a harder time purchasing what they need, when they need it.
Considering only points #1 and #4, there seems to be no harm in supporting ads in any way.
But #2 and #3 make it seem, to me at least, unethical to even work for a company whose business relies on ads.
I know a man who turned down a job opportunity discussion from Facebook this week for this exact reason, and I think that's noble, especially considering he's very poor and could use the raise.
The vast majority of advertising dollars are around a) brand recognition and b) spending to make sure that it’s the people they want to have brand recognition (for coke everyone, for Ford F-150 a particular demographic).
They believe this is important. They have years of evidence to prove it is & that you don’t think it works on you doesn’t matter to them.
They pay, your life changes, for their benefit. You have no say in it. It provably works even if you try to resist it, and don't consent to it.
Irrespective of one's views on this, it's a controversial topic. Given children are minors, this decision shouldn't be forced on them by app developers.
Think Mouser, DigiKey, Architonic...
That was exactly what happen to my kids yesterday. I don't mind ads, but when they are inappropriate for the 5 years old I get really pissed off. And I wish Apple Arcade could come sooner so they don't get distracted with Ads.
It is the same reason I don't really allow them to watch Youtube unattended anymore. I wish there is some curated Kid Channel I can safely let them browse. ( Kid these days are extremely good with technologies )
Not sure why you have to wait for Apple Arcade.
And on iOS, you can use Guided Access to keep them in the app. Not sure about Android.
2018 you say? surely they've fixed things by now?
and that's why none of my kids' devices have youtube on them anymore
I wish more developers would think this way!
Pretty sure sure I've never heard anyone say "the great thing about this game is all of the fun advertisements and cool micro-transactions."
So did you actually interview with them already knowing that you would reject?
1. He will not apply for jobs at Google and Facebook.
2. If attempted to be poached by Google and Facebook, he would decline any offer.
How did you market it / how did kids discover it?
What’s the game?
> 1.3 Kids Category
> The Kids Category is a great way for people to easily find apps that are designed for children. If you want to participate in the Kids Category, you should focus on creating a great experience specifically for younger users. These apps must not include links out of the app, purchasing opportunities, or other distractions to kids unless reserved for a designated area behind a parental gate. Keep in mind that once customers expect your app to follow the Kids Category requirements, it will need to continue to meet these guidelines in subsequent updates, even if you decide to deselect the category. Learn more about parental gates.
> Apps in the Kids Category may not include third-party advertising or analytics. You should also pay particular attention to privacy laws around the world relating to the collection of data from children online. Be sure to review the Privacy section of these guidelines for more information.
It appears to only apply to apps in the "Kids Category" so Candy Crush and the like can just say they are "adult"/not-kid-games and continue to be used by kids (while showing them ads and tracking them).
I love this. You can't just follow kids guidelines to build up your user-base and then drop it in favor of ads and analytics. Once you follow it, you have to continue to follow it.
Me too. It shows that Apple gives serious thought to this kind of stuff before they do it, and it comes from a philosophical position rather than what is expedient (or a Strategy Credit as Thompson might call it)
I wish there would appear a 2019 version of Children's Television Workshop which would produce wonderful media for the children of today. (Is it already happening in some form?)
My kids were watching an obviously kids-themed kids-friendly YouTube video and were shown an ad for Walking Dead, with graphic scary zombies. My 4yo was covering her eyes in fear.
Like WTF Google.
Now that I think about it, Saturday Morning Cartoons were filled with advertising for sugar and violent toys, some of which was clearly labeled as advertising.
You're teaching your children about censorship.
It's easier, sure, but maybe it's worth the effort to have a mature conversation with them instead of wholesale preventing access to their generation's largest media platform.
I don’t think they’re talking adolescents but rather toddlers and young children.
When I was three I had already developed the basic sense that people can lie and that advertisements are made by people. I had already taught myself how to read and was reading at a junior high level before even entering preschool.
I have clear and distinct memories of all sorts of advertisements I viewed around that age, and my deconstruction of them. It is most certainly a skill that can be taught by then.
I'm not special. Most people take for granted what a child can accomplish and waste those precious developmental years treating them like idiots instead of people.
As for kids who can't even speak yet, I don't know why any parent would just plop them in front of a tablet device and YouTube. It's a literal propaganda platform and if your kid can't even form their own sentences then maybe you shouldn't be providing a direct link to bad actors who want to turn them into lifelong consumers.
No, Google/YouTube with all their resources and experts should do better.
I think we can focus more heavily on pre-scholastic education without raising our expectations. No one ever expected me to do anything; my family tree is extremely anti-intellectual.
Despite the lack of expectations, I found the motivation to educate myself. The main driving motivation was fear of not being in control of myself or of being controlled by others, which I found knowledge could combat.
We don't typically instill this motivation in children, because largely as parents we just either don't know any better or don't have the motivation ourselves.
But I don't think that the average performance of a preschooler is indicative of the potential average performance. Too many factors come into play.
So without raising expectations, we can increase our attention to our children's developmental years, and instill within them the proper motivations by example.
Again, it isn't easy. And you're right, it doesn't completely generalize. Every person is unique.
But I'm shooting for the average here. On average, we take for granted the learning capacity of children, and take for granted how much the early phases of their childhood impacts the rest of their life.
To bring it back around, YouTube itself, in addition to tons of other online resources, has been a fundamental tool in my education. I would not nearly be where I am today without it. I can only imagine what I could have accomplished if YouTube as it is today existed in my youth.
I don't think we should be denying that to children.
I agree that Google needs to do better. It's that, or outside regulation will eventually creep in and turn the internet into the new TV.
Like I said, we can't use the current average performance as an indicator of potential average performance.
That will immunize them from everything from zombies to pornography to Fox News.
(Shrug) Don't tell me, tell Plato. He came up with the notion.
It’ll be as effective as saying, “don’t be afraid of the dark, there are no monsters, that’s just your imagination.”
That's pretty effective, and something almost every parent has to tell their child at one point or another. What do you recommend saying instead?
However, the Allegory was about how our senses and perceptions limit our full understanding of the world, not the fact that things we see on a television or stage are not real.
The former is a philosophical concept, the latter is just good advice.
That's my whole point. As a parent, you not only have the authority to tell your kids not to believe anything they see on a screen or hear through a speaker, you must raise them with that understanding. They will spend their entire lives with their senses and perceptions not only limited in a Platonic sense, but under active, continuous assault.
"Somewhat fitting," indeed: https://news.stanford.edu/2019/06/05/edit-video-editing-text...
Plato wasn't making a case for discerning fact from fiction using obviously fictitious sources (literature, dramas, TV, your friend Rob, etc).
He was illustrating that our own senses and perceptions prohibit us from seeing reality in an objective nature.
He compared the escaped prisoner to an enlightened philosopher, who has learned to use his mind and abstract thinking in order to see what his eyes cannot.
Plato isn't saying, "Don't believe what you read in the newspaper," he is saying, "Don't trust your eyes and ears at all, because your entire reality might be false."
That doesn't very much help a kid understand not to believe what he sees in advertisements or to distrust friendly faces who want to control them.
Basically, I'm saying that instead of being prisoners, we have entered the cave voluntarily, and have delegated our senses to the wall. In addition to Plato's puppeteer, the one unavoidable agent of indirection between us and objective reality, we now have two, our senses and our screens.
If you treat screens and speakers as if they are literal manifestations of the cave wall, it's no longer an abstract philosophical point. I'm saying that the only responsible thing I can tell a child is to believe nothing they see on a screen until they're old enough to argue with me about it.
So why won't you do this with digital media? An okay NAS costs about a same as year YT subscription, and there is a lot of great content.
The title, app description, screenshots, and icon give a lot of signals as to whether an app is targeting kids or not. In particular, icons and screenshots that use a lot of primary colors was a pretty good signal, though app description was the best feature.
How about a paid app? Charge what it costs to create once. The old model worked fine before the advent of IAP and adware. If the app is good, people would pay for it. Esp. if now there's a specific category for discovery!
> Basically ads equivalent OTA television or magazine ads should be allowed
I would guess that proponents of this approach also feel that the contents of TV/magazine ads should be strictly controlled (and probably they are -- I'm not sure what the exact regulations around these are, but I am sure it's much harder to publish a blatantly misleading magazine or TV ad, without consequences to the advertiser or the network/magazine, than it is to publish one online).
This isn't a new thing, they killed off most of the Transformers in the 80s movie so they could introduce a new line of characters/toys.
This just gives Apple more power to pick winners and losers
Nobody can stand a chance against someone well-versed in applied psychology (i.e. a marketer).
This is a win for advertisers, a loss for publishers and ad networks making money from mis-targeted ads.
When it comes to TV, some countries like Sweden and Norway do this. It seems the legislation hasn't caught up to the Internet though, and it may be difficult when the content comes from abroad.
So it's not (just) the outward flow of information, but the additional policing burden of a separate inward flow of graphics.
This is harmful to society, particularly as young children are not capable of making purchasing decisions anyways - this is adversarial brainwashing of the most vulnerable.
Somebody else posted what I think is the correct answer - it removes the possibility of a third party showing inappropriate content to kids.
If they are saying that the game company has to have their own ad platform that basically means only Google and Facebook will be able to release ad supported child targeted games on iOS in the future, which doesn't really make any sense to me.
Hence it also requires the apps not to have external links etc.
The bigger issue is do you really think things will be better this way. Services like Google Search, Maps, newspapers would all become pay-walled. I honestly would personally like this outcome, as I have enough income to pay an extra $20-30 / month for these features. However for those in poverty 15-20% in the US and much more world wide this would be a major hardship. I really don’t think we want all of these currently ad supported things to be pay only in future, which is the inevitable outcome of banning advertising.
Much like with trade, advertising isn't necessarily a zero sum game. Nor is it the same experience for everyone. I suspect your perception of advertising is distorted by your own context.
A high income individual might see advertising as targeting their disposable income and attempting to get them to spend more of it... because that's what will really move the needle for the advertiser with that customer. But it's a totally different experience for advertising's impact on low-income consumers.
Amongst lower income folks little if any of their spending is disposable income; that's not going to move the needle for an advertiser. What might move the needle is the non-disposable income, particular for staple consumer packaged goods (CPG) like food, clothing, cleaning products, etc.
The goal isn't to get lower income folks to spend more of their income at all, because that isn't an option. The only way to reliably get low income consumers to spend more money is to give them more money to spend. In most cases, all or almost all their income is going to be spent even without advertising. When you are hungry and on a limited budget, an ad isn't going to convince you to spend more money on food, but it might change your mind about what you decide to eat. So advertisers aren't trying to convince poorer folks to spend more of their disposable income, but rather to choose to spend their non-disposable income with the advertiser instead of a competitor.
While advertisers may be attempting to manipulate an audience, lower income folks aren't so vulnerable. You can show them as many ads as you want for yachts, they aren't going to buy one. The more vulnerable audiences are those with more choices, not fewer.
Stronger players in a market tend to be able to afford more on marketing, which can mean that advertising ensures those consumers are aware of the stronger players in the market.
Consumers consequently have learned to treat extensive marketing as an easily detectable proxy signal for that strength, which, despite its pitfalls, is often more reliable than other signals (unfortunately, targeting can undermine this a bit by making an advertising seem more pervasive to a targeted audience than it really is, but overall it remains more true than not).
Brand awareness advertising in particular tends to increase the importance of providing a successful product experience to those lower income populations, because those populations are more risk adverse to a disappointing experience (one can't just buy more food if the stuff one spent the last of one's paycheck on turns out to be terrible). Consequently, even though lower-income consumers might have a lower expected customer lifetime value, an advertiser might be more concerned that a negative experience with them, as the damage to the brand image might be far more lasting.
If you have a non-staple CPG good, your revenue isn't going to be coming from consumer's non-disposable income, so you're going to naturally disenfranchise consumers who don't have much if any disposable income. You won't care about their needs or their complaints. Maybe if you are creative, you might increase margins on your product so you can find some way to give away your product to those without disposable income, thereby having people with disposable income subsidize everyone else. Unless...
...you make your product ad supported. Now you might derive much of your revenue stream by appealing to a customer base with no disposable income, because you are getting paid by an advertiser with a product that might target non-disposable income... and even if those consumers are being influenced by the advertising, they aren't going to be spending money they wouldn't spend anyway (not a choice available to them), and while it is far from certain, they are more likely to be getting better value for that money.
So one can argue that advertising makes advertisers and ad supported products more sensitive to the needs of lower income populations who do not have disposable income.
I actually agree with most everything you say here, except for grouping all advertising together. Some ads are generally helpful for all the reasons you list here; others are incredibly predatory. To move the conversation forward, we need to move past “ads are good” vs “ads are evil” and start talking about the benefits and drawbacks of particular kinds of ads.
What Apple’s doing here seems like a good start to me— they’re reinforcing the idea that (app) publishers can and should exercise editorial control over the ads their app displays, and having somebody to hold accountable for bad decisions is a prerequisite for any meaningful discussion of what is and isn’t appropriate.
I didn't intend to group all ads together, but rather speak broadly of the aggregate effect of advertisers. No question there are predatory ads.
I would say though that publishers can and should exercise editorial control over ads & analytics in their apps... even if they are using 3rd parties. What tends to happen is that they choose NOT to in all but the most egregious cases (and even then...), because of the impact on their bottom line.
The reduction of tracking and ads is a good thing, but that there is going to be a FAANG that is explicitly encouraging this is great news.
I would prefer if the market itself forced out tracking and ads. Provide a space for it and that space can compete with everything else and if we're lucky will wildly outcompete the competition.
This is the kind of walled garden I want to see. One with high walls and a door.
Overall the market is moving away from third-party now, as it's simply a lot less effective. Everyone in the industry wants to be working with first-party data.
It would be a mistake to think this is going to reduce tracking and ads. What it will do is reduce third party tracking and ads. The effect will likely be an increase in poor quality track & ads, as well as encourage consolidation in the mobile app space as those FAANG companies can provide higher quality tracking & ads then small startups who cannot invest as much in their own tracking & ad implementation.
> This is the kind of walled garden I want to see. One with high walls and a door.
It'll be a walled garden alright, but I think not quite what you imagine. It'll be a less competitive market place with far greater barriers to entry.
that would be fantastic!
If there is one company of FAANG who's up for this task -and can beat Google at their game- it is Apple.
Also, I have serious doubts that Apple can beat Google - and it certainly won't be "at their own game" (which is advertising).
A time when the digital divide was vast & software companies had no reason to heed the interests of those without disposable income... ;-)
BTW, how are ads incentivizing user-focused development? Look at the Top 100 apps in any apps store, and tell me they're not virtual clones of Clash of Clans, Plants v Zombies and Candy Crush. Every developer is heeding self-interest first.
Do you really think you'd have so many developers, competing so aggressively with each other in an attempt to appeal to millions of people with a collective negative disposable income, the bulk of which is probably not spent on software at all? No. Even if you were hugely successful, you'd be lucky to get enough income to pay a developer's salary.
Is this actually true? Jailbreaks haven't been persistent in the face of updates in a long while, so for devices kept up to date it's possible to lock down an iPhone fairly hard. I haven't investigated how parent control compares to full MDM, but the supervision capabilities now in iOS  are pretty powerful. For better and for worse of course, that kind of control over user devices, particularly in the context of parents and children, is definitely a double edged sword. But compared to typical computers I don't think it should be lightly dismissed either as something kids can just get around. They aren't open systems.
I also run a PiHole, and to my displeasure, I've found both these apps use Google Analytics. PBS Kids Video goes a few steps further and uses Google AdWords as well as ScorecardResearch analytics. These publicly funded apps are siphoning data about me and my little one off to 3rd parties. The 3rd paries might not be able to use that data for targeted advertising within the app, but make no mistake that the data is still used to 'enrich' my shadow profiles. I am very excited about these changes from Apple and I hope that they are able to enforce them. I've written both of the apps support emails in the past about the analytics and never received a response.
I've also heard of a popular BBC kids app called CBeebies. Last time I ran it on my iPhone, it reached out to Facebook, Localytics, Branch.io, Google Analytics, app-measurement.com, and onesignal.com
* This phone is used by a kid
* $user has children (through association with other devices used at the same location and IP)
* $kid lives at $address (even when it doesn't know the location of $kid's phone, it knows the location of other devices using the same IP)
* $kid goes to $school (using location data from your or your SO's phone when dropping of your kid).
* etc. etc.
A lot of information can be inferred by knowing which other users are associated with a child.
In fact, so many apps embed these analytics frameworks, that it's possible to make an almost complete picture of what a device was used for every day, including location information, etc on the back-end.
Ultimately though, GA wins because these organizations outsource web development and digital marketing work to agencies or contractors, and they are the ones that make the tooling decisions. GA is a known quantity, so even if their contract isn't renewed, a new agency will be able to take over the account fairly frictionlessly.
And there are more contractors that are GA-focused than there are for Matomo, and that's important when you're tasked with shopping around for agencies.
But you have to understand, the marketing team wants analytics. You can request to allocate engineers to setup a server with motamo, which will require replication, setup, maintaince, etc.
Your project manager is going to say "Wait this is going to take X man hours, require maintenance, etc? Why don't we just use GA like everyone does, like we always have, as it's free, has builtin redundancy, requires no maintaince, and can be added in 5 minutes?"
They aren't going to even think about privacy. Most consumers don't even care (although they should).
To answer your question though: Instant setup, ease of use, zero-maintance, zero-cost, and it's an industry standard. Literally the only downside is less-flexibility (mostly only applicable to programmers/power users) and privacy issues, which again, not very many consumers or companies care about this form of privacy (but again they should be).
If you need some pearls to clutch, there’s an app for that. Unfortunately it contains Google Analytics and ScorecardResearch analytics.
I mean how much can there be to know about a kid? Loves Elmo? Oh better show it ads for Elmo lmao.
Apps do request these permissions, sometimes for legitimate reasons and analytics frameworks then take advantage of that data: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2018/12/10/business/loca...
Furthermore, those older kids are almost certainly using their parents' device.
I understand that there's a fine line between game analytics and farming PII but I think it's an important line. I'm sad to see Apple forcing you to use a first-party analytics solution. Smaller indie devs often won't have the time to set up their own data pipeline and depend on things like Unity Analytics or Flurry to help them do data analysis.
Another problem is that nowadays each app usually uses quite a few 3rd party libs/services, and each one of them may have analytics of one sort or another, even when the app doesn't explicitly use them for that, f.e. Crashlytics, Firebase, Logentries... With a strict approach there, I'd be worried about stability of kids apps, if devs would be forced to disable those services...
It's not hard to see how this might turn out to be a case of a policy that sounds good, but in practice is a disaster.
Edit: current policy is
"Ads in your app that are served to children need to be appropriate and served from an ads network that has certified compliance with our families policies."
Play store went from 3.2m to 2.6m apps last year. When it comes to rejecting apps that violate their tos they are pretty trigger happy.
Like the volume is down, but for all I know it's just the same actors getting the same stuff out there.
It's really hard to tell.
For what it's worth, Apple QA is also mostly automated.
I got hit by the for kids advertisement thing despite not advertising or tracking in any way because I had not set it up to either be explicitly for kids or not.
But this is a huge development. Big enough that I'll be dropping the Android devices and switching my kids over to Apple ones completely. As it is I have lots of conversations with them regarding why some games they see will never be bought by us (like those awful Thomas and Friends ones that you have to buy then still have ads and IAP to put up with).
Thank you Apple. But also, shame on you industry for making this something that I need to specifically look out for.
If all goes well they'll understand what ads are and how they manipulate us from a young age and be better able to deal with this crazy world as they grow older. Of course this is a long game - I don't know if I'm being successful yet but I'm hopeful.