iPhone maker Apple has reportedly asked China’s major app developers to refrain from using gyroscopic motion, a feature that tracks the motion of a user’s phone, for advertising, as it all too readily redirects users to third-party apps on detecting even the slightest shake of a device.
Why it matters: Open-screen advertising serves as a monetization method for many apps, while gyroscopic ads can boost the click-through rate of the target app. Those employing the feature have found that both parties can gain commercially, despite it taking control away from the user and thus impacting the user experience.
Details: Deployment of the function, criticized by numerous users, escalated during November’s three-week-long Singles Day shopping festival that has just ended. E-commerce platforms extensively used redirect ads across various apps, including the most widely used video and music streaming platforms, as well as social media apps. These ads can be triggered by clicking on an ad page or moving the phone, redirecting the user’s attention to another app.
- A netizen on Weibo, a Twitter-like platform, jokingly wrote that the redirection speed was faster than if they had directly opened the app.
- On-device gyroscopes help to achieve the ad redirect feature, though gyroscopes were originally designed to provide “experiences based on real-time, motion-based information in apps and games,” according to Apple.
- Another form of advertising similarly concealed within social media during China’s largest online shopping event was activated by Weibo blog comments – – individuals would write related comments and attach seemingly relevant webpage links. Once users clicked, they would find their phones had already opened advertised shopping websites. It remains uncertain whether this type of promotional tactic is directly linked to e-commerce sites.
- According to local media outlet Yicai, Taobao, JD, Pinduoduo, and Douyin have not explicitly said they received a notification from Apple, and Apple has not responded to the rumors.
Context: In February, China’s State Administration for Market Regulation made it clear in a guideline that advertisements should be clearly labeled using a closing icon, and should not deceptively induce users to click on or browse any advertisement. The new measures were supposed to further refine the norms of online advertising in China.
Cheyenne Dong is a tech reporter now based in Shanghai. She covers e-commerce and retail, AI, and blockchain. Connect with her via e-mail: cheyenne.dong[a]technode.com.
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