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Apple Rejecting Apps For Not Showing Ads (tapstream.com)
29 points by slaven on Feb 2, 2014 | hide | past | favorite | 23 comments

No, Apple is rejecting apps for pulling the advertising unique identifier and not using it for ads, but instead to spy.

Stop it.

Whats wrong with using the highly reliable IDFA for install attribution? 1) Allows the advertiser to know exactly which publisher provided the install, thus allowing for fair billing. 2) Allows advertisers to study users on a app-level to see which sources provide the high quality users. 3) Ultimately helps ad networks target more relevant ads to users, providing a better user experience and higher eCPMs for publishers.

You won't see any ad units that you don't like disappear - the transaction point for the advertiser will just be the click rather than the install.

This is only going to push the industry away from the heavily favored CPI pricing to CPC pricing.

Allowing the use of the IDFA by publishers and not by advertisers renders it useless, since it can no longer be used for attribution. I don't think conversion tracking - measuring the performance of ads you bought to promote your app - counts as spying.

Yes, it does. And it allows for shady "install this app to continue"-campaigns to artificially boost downloads of apps so they appear in top sellers - even if nobody is actually using them.

BUT the advertisers can aggregate the data between apps to spy on users.

Exactly. And the title is incredibly misleading.

Original text from Apple with tips to fix using strings and otool at: https://github.com/mixpanel/mixpanel-iphone/issues/109

Note that this affects quite a few major platforms:

* parse.com seems to have added it when they added social.framework for Facebook features

* TestFlight uses it for obvious reasons: https://testflightapp.com/sdk/ios/doc/2.0.0/ -- they add it even if you forget to.

* Mixpanel affected (with workaround above)

Not affected:

* AFAIK, Google doesn't use it unless you added it as a custom metric with your own custom code (or a third-party integration library)

* Flurry split off their advertising library from their analytics one, in part likely because of this requirement from Apple. If you implement just the analytics, it does not require AdSupport.framework.

This might be a shot at Stripe/Braintree/Paypal. All those companies want to use the IDFA as a part of their scheme to uniquely identify devices/users for their one touch payment solution, and Apple has been rumored to be getting into the mobile payments arena.

Even if Apple has some nefarious motive for doing this, if it really does have a beneficial effect on privacy, I find it hard to fault them for it. Can we save the pitchforks and torches for when they do something actually bad? (that is a serious question, there are arguments both ways)

I’m not sure my understanding of this is correct. It seems to be crying about the problems this will cause. Ostensibly, it’s saying that there’s a problem with the identifier for ads being requested in apps that don’t have ads (i.e. being used as a surrogate identifier).

But, more nefariously (again, if my understanding is correct) it’s saying that many ad networks rely on this info being passed to advertisers (despite the policy being that it shouldn’t), and how problematic it’s going to be if Apple enforces this policy.

If this is the case, my sympathy is close to zero. Not because “advertising = bad”, but because this was a known no-no. Don’t cry foul when you can’t do what you were told you couldn’t.

I think what they're saying is that for something as simple as analytics (just an example), apps need some sort of unique identifier for the user, but that the only unique identifier iOS provides is the advertising ID of the user. Of course the correct answer is to stop doing any sort of analytics, or anything else that requires a unique identifier. But the point I think the author is making is that that is a bad solution.

Of course this all ignores the possibility of creating user accounts or generating a unique identifier whenever the use installs the app, so maybe there is something more to it that I'm not understanding. Because I tend to agree with you, that developers shouldn't be doing something with user data that is prohibited.

> Of course this all ignores the possibility of creating user accounts or generating a unique identifier whenever the use installs the app

Which is exactly what Apple recommended when they stopped letting apps get a hold of the UDID.

I can't think of a really good legit reason for wanting a cross-app unique ID.

> I can't think of a really good legit reason for wanting a cross-app unique ID.

The use case that's affected the most by this change is that of advertisers who want to track the performance of ads they buy from publishers, which I think is a legitimate need. The fact that the IDFA uniquely identifies an iOS device (unless the user resets it) is a side effect of Apple's implementation of it; all app advertisers really want is the same kind of first-party conversion tracking for their apps that's standard everywhere else on the web.

Agreed - app advertisers are playing a performance marketing game with their install ads. This change is going to make user acquisition more tedious in several ways: - some networks will become straight CPC, which will be a pain in the ass to arbitrage to a CPI - there will be a lot of campaign monitoring required - other methods of install attribution simply aren't as reliable. This will affect the eCPMs of in-app advertising that consisted of app-install demand.

If you are doing analytics of your users (instead of measuring your advertising), then you can use IDFV and should not be using the IDFA. The IDFV should always be the same whenever your app looks at it, whereas the IDFA is subject to change depending on the user's privacy configuration.

IDFV would be perfect. Just need to be aware of one caveat, if the user deletes all apps from a developer (or is on another device) and reinstalls an app, the IDFV will be different. Seems like they could come up with a solution that hashes some company and user attributes to provide a consistent ID across all of a single developers apps.

The issue is that many libraries still used this function to uniquely identify devices for analytics (e.g. content-based advertising?) or for legitimate functionality (TestFlight, cross app communication). Many people might drag-and-drop a library into their app, it all works, and then suddenly their next update is now rejected and it wasn't "their fault". Some, as on stackoverflow, don't even know where to begin to address the issue.

I got rejected, but I _do_ show ads. My guess is Apple is targeting particular SDKs/libraries, and so that even apps that are showing ads are getting flagged. Not sure what the resolution is going to be - still waiting on an Apple response.

I've got a whole bunch of libs included, several of which use AdSupport. Arg.

After emailing in, my app got approved, but no information as to why the rejected me in the first place...

Hang on, you think Apple are worried about the privacy of end users? I call shenanigans! There are likely many reasons they're doing this, that is firmly at the bottom of the list three rooms over entitled "things Apple don't care about".

Well, if you see what happened with UDID and how much kerfuffle there was to get from there to IDFA it's pretty obvious Apple wants to protect the user.

For a contrast to Android you just need to read this article: http://www.linkedin.com/today/post/article/20140130170002-11...

> Well, if you see what happened with UDID and how much kerfuffle there was to get from there to IDFA it's pretty obvious Apple wants to protect the user.

From my perspective it seems that Apple wants to have access to this data for iAds, but doesn't want any competition. It's been their normal behaviour recently, trying to eliminate any possibility of anyone competing with them in their markets. From wide device bans to price fixing conspiracies.

Apple wants to create a monopoly for advertising across the entire Apple product ecosystem. If they're the only company with install attribution across apps and devices, they can serve (re)targeted advertising to you on the Apple TV, your iPad, your iPhone, and Safari, all through the cross-platform iAD.

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