Finally under a safe space, app publishers can now advertise on their push notifications if the user has explicitly opted in to receive it. Spotted by the tech blog 9to5mac earlier this year, Apple has cut some slack for the direct marketing or the promotional campaigns that once were strongly prohibited by the App Store. The guidelines however require you to ensure an easy opt-out for users that are not interested in receiving these ads.
Here’s what the App Store Review Guidelines section 4.5.4 now reads -
“Push Notifications must not be required for the app to function, and should not be used to send sensitive personal or confidential information. Push Notifications should not be used for promotions or direct marketing purposes unless customers have explicitly opted in to receive them via consent language displayed in your app’s UI, and you provide a method in your app for a user to opt-out from receiving such messages. Abuse of these services may result in revocation of your privileges.”
As many as 92% of the Apple devices shipped in the last four years are running on iOS 13 (the current version of the operating system), as per the App Store. And 83% of all the Apple devices now are on iOS 13. Numbers like these justify why Apple made it mandatory for all the iPhone apps to be built with iOS 13 SDK or later prior to submitting them for approval to the App Store.
Things To Getting Your App Approved By App Store
Along with introducing some exciting features like Dark Mode, new Siri voice, updated privacy, etc, Apple has also put out a strict prohibition policy for developers and marketers. Failing to adhere to these can simply get your app rejected or blocked.
- Apple guidelines clearly state that “Push notifications must not be required for the app to function”. App owners need to make sure that they do not force permissions on their users by setting it as default.
- Remember this is the first time Apple has allowed apps to monetize their push notifications. The clearly marked consent guidelines need to be strictly followed by the app owners. There should be an explicit consent asked from the users about their willingness to receive promotional content inside the app's UI. Once the user has accepted and allowed, only then would they be able to receive your ads. Also, it is a mandate to have a method in place that would allow users to opt-out from receiving only promotional content. Doing so they would continue receiving push notifications in general but not any promotional/marketing content.
How To Make Sure This Doesn’t Lead To Your App Getting Uninstalled
Alright. So let's just address the elephant, your app won't be removed from the App Store for following the ill engagement practices that Apple hasn't shown any problem with, yet. But, you need to respect the users' experience in case you want your brand to be a part of their life. Here's what would help -
- Watch out the frequency of the notifications. Users are habitual to uninstalling the app if the notifications get annoying or as Gillian Bell likes to call it “death by notifications”.
- Users should be able to temporarily disable notifications for some time in case they become difficult to deal with. Adding a “Silence All” button to mute the app notifications for a given time say 30 minutes or 24 hours would help.
Although the strict policies put forth by Apple would make it difficult for the push notification inventory to become a solid revenue source, mobile experts as per Digiday are looking at this from an increased user loyalty standpoint. With more power at the hands of a user and a direct app-linked revenue, this update so far has been expected to favor all.
“It has to be benefit-led versus, ‘We have inventory to sell and we need to push more product’ … in the app environment people are less forgiving — make too many mistakes and, boom, you’re gone.”
- Gillian Bell, Wake The Bear