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Apple promotion ban hurts Tapjoy

End of "pay per install" promotions leads to revenue drops on iOS

Middleware company Tapjoy has complained that Apple's ban of "pay per install" promotions is adversely affecting its business and that of a majority of iOS developers.

Despite talks between Tapjoy and Apple the ban was put in place over concerns that developers were paying Tapjoy, via its propriety monetisation platform, to boost their game's ranking in the list of top 25 apps.

With a pay per install app a user is incentivised, usually with the promise of in-game currency, to install another unrelated app. The developer then shares the revenue with the original app that promoted the use.

Tapjoy's argument, that incentivised promotions are commonplace and that they allow developers to create a more stable and predictable business, were not accepted by Apple.

According to website VentureBeat, an attempt by Tapjoy CEO Mihir Shah to institute a compromise, where a cap prevented developers from unfairly breaking into the top 25, was rejected by Apple.

Publisher Glu Mobile has also voiced concerns that its business model could be severely affected, with eight times more developers reporting a decrease in usage following the policy change than those that experienced an increase. This ratio increased to 15 to 1 in terms of revenue declines.

A Tapjoy survey of developers also showed that almost half had begun to receive large numbers of complaints from customers at the sudden inability to earn in-game currency from installing other apps.

The ban of promotions is part of Apple's ongoing attempt to improve the fairness of app rankings. Although actions such as the re-weighting of chart algorithms have generally occurred without comment or explanation.

A dependence on a single format has also caused problems with other casual developers, with Applifier admitting that an over reliance on Facebook has caused problems, while even Zynga has been criticised for not expanding beyond its primary platform.

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David Jenkins

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