Tapjoy Voluntarily Dampens The Effect of Its Incentivized Install Campaigns to Appease Apple

Tapjoy is voluntarily dampening the effect of its incentivized install campaigns in the wake of a crackdown by Apple on the practice. The company is putting a cap on the number of installs any single app can drive for another.

Two weeks ago, Apple began rejecting mobile apps that contain offer walls giving users rewards like virtual currency if they download other developers’ apps. When done at scale, incentivized installs can allow developers to pay to break into the top of the charts where they can gain visibility and hundreds of thousands to millions of more downloads.

Although Apple had tolerated the practice for at least a year, the company’s rejections notices said that apps containing offer walls can have a disproportionate influence on rankings, which is against a clause in the company’s developer agreement.

Tapjoy’s move to cap installs is meant to ensure that apps that do break into the top of the charts have to rely on other means of user acquisition. That could involve paying for other types of advertising, doing aggressive PR or just building inherently good apps.

“No single app will be able to have too much influence on the charts,” said Matt McAllister, a senior director of marketing for Tapjoy.

It’s unclear what Apple’s final policy on incentivized installs will be. According to multiple sources, the ban appears porous: some apps with offer walls are getting through and others aren’t. In the meantime, several of the biggest independent developers like Pocket Gems, Storm8 and TinyCo appear to have voluntarily taken the walls out of some of their apps.

As a whole, the developer community remains divided over the practice. Some developers critique it as a way to buy rank and unfairly “game” the charts. But many independent developers like Playforge and Pocket Gems that started out as two-person teams have been able to grow into companies with anywhere from a dozen to more than 50 employees partially because of offer wall revenue.

It’s not exactly clear what the net effect of Tapjoy’s decision will be on its revenue. With more than 7,500 Android and iOS apps in its network, the company can probably intelligently distribute impressions of specific offers for advertisers between all of the publishers it has signed. This might also lead to a more diverse selection of apps on the offer walls of Tapjoy’s biggest publisher partners.