Skip to main content

Apple developers are frustrated with gambling ads appearing across the App Store

Apple developers are frustrated with gambling ads appearing across the App Store


Gambling app ads have even started showing up beneath apps meant to help users recover from a gambling addiction

Share this story

The image displays Apple’s blue App Store logo in front of a pink and black background.
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

Apple just launched new ad placements on the App Store, and developers aren’t happy with the types of ads surfacing beneath their apps. As spotted by MacRumors, several app developers have pointed out that ads for gambling have started appearing in the “You Might Also Like” sections beneath their App Store listings, which is just one of the new places Apple has started sticking ads.

Developer Simon B. Støvring posted a screenshot of an ad for an online casino app appearing beneath his text editor Runestone. Støvring says he visited the page for his app 10 times and noticed that ads for gambling apps showed up on three visits. Marco Arment, the developer of the podcast app Overcast, said on Twitter he’s “really not OK with” the gambling ads showing up on his app product page.

Another user replied to Arment’s tweet, noting that the App Store is even showing gambling ads beneath apps designed specifically to help users recover from a gambling addiction, while another noticed gambling ads have even popped up on children’s education apps. It doesn’t look like gambling ads are the only types of questionable (and highly irrelevant) ads the App Store’s surfacing, either; the Basic Apple Guy Twitter account pointed out that an “adult video chat” ad appeared beneath Apple’s own Books app.

As noted by Arment, Apple gives advertisers the option to show their ads against both relevant and non-relevant App Store listings, which is why gambling and adult video chat apps are appearing everywhere on the store. He also adds that Apple only lets advertisers filter their ads based on basic demographic filters, such as country, gender, and age range.

Apple could eventually bring ads to Podcasts, Books, and Maps, too

The App Store previously only displayed ads on the Search tab and in search results. But Apple’s recent changes bring ads to the “You Might Also Like” sections, as well as the Today tab. Apple says the new placements can “drive discovery of your app in more moments across the App Store — when customers first arrive, search for something specific, and browse apps to download.” An earlier report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman indicates Apple’s planning to bring ads to its Podcasts, Maps, and Books apps as well. The Verge reached out to Apple to see if it has any plans to strictly vet the types of apps appearing in the You Might Also Like sections, and we’ll update this article if we hear back.

In May, a report from Insider revealed that Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of services, plans to direct more attention to the company’s streaming and advertising business, which has only become more profitable with the launch of Apple’s App Tracking Transparency policy last year. Since the rule requires developers to let users opt in or out of in-app tracking, developers can’t deploy targeted ads if users opt out. Insider reports this has forced them to shift some of their budgets to advertising on the App Store instead. According to research firm Omdia, Apple’s advertising business could rake in $5.5 billion this year alone.