On October 25th, Apple started displaying more ads in the App Store, particularly in the "Today" tab and at the bottom of app listings. Since then, multiple developers have complained about getting ads for gambling under their listings' "You Might Also Like" section, when they have nothing to do with their applications. One of those developers was Marco Arment, who posted a screenshot on Twitter showing gambling advertisements on the App Store page for his podcast app Overcast. Other developers reported having the same issue and made it clear that they weren't OK with casino ads in their product pages. Now, Apple has told MacRumors that it has "paused ads related to gambling and a few other categories on App Store product pages."
Now my app’s product page shows gambling ads, which I’m really not OK with.
Apple shouldn’t be OK with it, either.
The App Store has corrupted such a great company so deeply. They make so much from gambling and manipulative IAPs that they don’t even see the problem anymore. https://t.co/MnNlf7k0kT
— Marco Arment (@marcoarment) October 25, 2022
That's pretty much Apple's whole statement. It's not quite clear if the tech giant intends to resume serving gambling ads after the backlash dies down — Apple didn't expound on its decision, and the word "pause" seems to suggest that the change is only temporary. As MacRumors notes, people have been criticizing Apple for serving casino ads as a whole and not just because they're being served within app listings. Florian Mueller of the FOSS Patents blog also argued that by putting ads in app pages, Apple is forcing developers to pony up money to buy those ad spaces. That's because if they don't purchase them, competitors could use them and take potential customers away.
Apple has sold ads in the App Store for years, but the ads space in the Today tab used to be reserved for a curated list of recommendations from Apple's editorial team. Meanwhile, the "You Might Also Like" section where ads are now displayed at the bottom of listings contained suggestion cards for similar apps. Since Apple allows advertisers to target categories different than their own, though, casino ads can show up just about anywhere on the App Store.