September 29, 2016 Last Updated 8:33 am

Apple begins pitching search ads to app developers, publishers

The DIY advertising program is similarly designed to Google’s AdWords program where the developer sets a budget, selects keywords, sets schedule, then bids

The single biggest complaint from app developers is that no one can find their apps inside the Apple App Store because how badly the store is designed, and how poor the search mechanism is. Today, Apple began soliciting developers advertising to be placed when a users searches for ads using certain terms. To lure advertising, Apple is offering a $100 free credit on its new landing page for the program.

“The App Store is the primary place where people come to find apps,” the Apple website explains. “In fact, over 65% of downloads come directly from a search on the App Store.+ Put your app at the top of relevant search results and connect customers directly to download in one tap.”


The effort will certainly annoy a lot of developers who felt they had an agreement with Apple not to be abused by being forced to buy advertising in order to be able to sell their apps. After all, it was the developers who really jump started iPhone sales when the original App Store was launched in 2008. Now, rather than Apple investing in fixing iTunes and the App Store, they are asking developers for more money.

“As someone who has been an Apple Developer since 1984, I have seen a few mistakes over the years by Apple, but this is the most disgusting thing they have done,” one developer said on the 9to5Mac website. “They broke the App store three years ago. As part of that they also eliminated the very useful listing for new Apps that gave everyone a chance to shine for a day or two. So instead they are putting a tax on developers who if they are not selling a game with in app purchase are barely making it.”

Other developers and publishers, however, are certain to be thrilled that their is finally a promotion program that is out in the open, and seemingly fair to all developers, not just those that Apple hand selects.

Like Google’s ad programs, the new App Store ad program is a relatively easy do-it-yourself program where one the developer describes their app using keywords, sets an ad budget and sets a schedule, and then bids.

The idea is that there are simply too many apps now in the App Store in order for a user to easily find your app. So, you should advertise.

This makes sense for the largest companies who have marketing budgets – and, to be honest, this is who Apple has cared about for a while now. But for independent developers – and most important to TNM, independent publishers – the App Store was always the place where they built their businesses. The idea was that if you built a great app, or digital magazine, you could create a real business. This was certainly a fantasy, especially for publishers, driven home by the end of the Newsstand.


But for publishers, the real problem remains the App Store itself. See the photo above, that is the Arts & Photography home page of the App Store. At the top, those blue boxes, those are supposed to be filled with magazine and newspaper apps. The “New” section is supposed to feature the latest released apps, but instead is an alphabetical listing of apps, leading off with apps from bogus developers who name their apps with an “A” or “AA” in order to be listed first.

The App Store has looked like this for over three years. Three years of a broken App Store for publishers and no sign that Apple cares enough to change things.

My conversations with Apple representatives have always gone the same way, the Apple employee expresses embarrassment that the store looks this way, and promises to push the problem up the corporate ladder. I recently spoke to a former Apple employee who told me frankly that Apple is well aware of how bad all this looks, but doesn’t care because there simply is not enough money to be had from publishers to make the needle more – at least that was their opinion on the matter.

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