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Apple pulls iAds from iOS software geared toward children

Citing a lack of interest from advertisers, Apple has decided it will not display advertisements from its iAd network in applications for the iPhone and iPad that are meant for children, according to one developer.

Mike Zornek, creator of the Pokemon-game-themed "Dex" application for iPhone, sent an e-mail to Apple after his advertising fill rate dropped to 0 percent. As first reported by MacStories, this week he received a reply from a member of Apple iAd Network Support.

"We periodically review the apps in the iAd Network to ensure that all apps receiving ads are aligned with the needs of our advertisers," the employee explained. "Currently, our advertisers prefer that their advertising not appear in applications that are targeted for users that are young children, since their products are not targeted at that audience."

Zornek expressed frustration over Apple's handling of the situation on his personal blog, because the iPhone maker didn't reach out to him to explain the situation beforehand, or post a notification on the iAd developer page. He warned that other developers should "be careful putting all your eggs in one basket."

"Apple should target their ads better," he wrote. "I would have loved to have seen some ads that were better suited to kids in Dex. It's a shame they don't have the inventory to do so. However the manner in which they've made this policy change just stinks."

Because of Apple's change, Zornek was forced to switch to the AdMob network which is owned by Apple's rival, Google. He explained that iAd's average "fill rate," or percentage of advertisements sent to the Dex application after a request was made for one, was 16.5 percent. AdMob's fill rate is reportedly much higher, but the advertisements carry less value than Apple's network.

The iAd network launched in 2010, and key advertisers for the network included Nissan and Unilever, but products for children were not a significant presence. iAds are rich, interactive advertisements that allow users to learn more about a product from within an App Store application, rather than launching a browser and exiting the software.

Though iAds got off to a strong start, some advertisers, such as shoemaker Adidas, were said to be frustrated with Apple and its tight control over the advertising network.

In February, one report indicated that fill rates had dropped significantly for developers utilizing the iAd network. Soon after, Apple cut the entry price for advertisers in half, to $500,000, in an effort to reverse the downward trend of fill rates.