Starting on April 1, when we find apps that violate ACR-013, we'll list them as active Deceptors. If you're an app vendor who makes offers to install additional software, or you're a third-party offer provider, this blog post is for you.
We think that app monetization through making offers for other apps is legitimate, and it should be allowed. That being said, we have identified a key scenario when we believe it's almost impossible for consumers to distinguish the acceptance of another offer from the work that they're already performing. ACR-013 will be violated when certain kinds of offers are made during this key scenario.
ACR-013 only targets silent-install offers for unrelated software that interrupt committed user acquisition workflows without first obtaining consent. But that's quite a mouthful, so you can use this rubric to unpack it and see if ACR-013 applies to your offer:
- Was the offer presented during an committed user workflow, such as during the consumer answering the install questions? If not, then ACR-013 doesn't apply to your offer.
- Was the offer presented in a way that demanded the consumer to answer or wait to continue? If not, then ACR-013 doesn't apply to your offer.
- Will acceptance of the offer result in the silent installation of another app? If not, then ACR-013 doesn't apply to your offer.
- Is the offer related or essential to your app? If it is, then ACR-013 doesn't apply to your offer.
- Immediately prior to making the offer, did you obtain explicit consent to do so? If you did, then ACR-013 doesn't apply to your offer. (A big thank you to Keren and Itay at CSA for helping us understand the importance of this scenario -- we added this after their feedback)
Restating this with references to the rubric: ACR-013 only targets silent-install offers (#3) for unrelated software (#4) that interrupt (#2) committed user acquisition workflows (#1) without first obtaining consent (#5).
So what to do if you think your offer is violating ACR-013? We suggest the following remedies (this isn't an exhaustive list, but it may spark your own creativity):
- Consider moving your offer out of the committed user workflow. For instance, if the offer was inside the install, you could place it at the end, after the consumer knows the installation was complete.
- Consider making your offer without requiring a response from the user to continue the workflow.
- Upon acceptance, consider not silently installing the app, but instead show a landing page, or launch an interactive install
- Consider showing how the offer is for software essential or related to your app.
- Consider obtaining explicit consent for showing the offer.
In our studies of the software monetization industry, we've identified many application vendors who already comply with non-ACR-013-violating offers for software. But because we understand that this change may be disruptive to some application vendors, and also to some third-party offer providers, we've spent several months informing the industry, answering their questions, listening to the AVs, and improving on the ACR to be sure we get it right. We "froze" the words in ACR-013 in January, and since then we have been working on spreading the word throughout the industry.
We're grateful to the support we've received from CleanApps.org for hosting a webinar, and to CSA for distributing to their constituents, collecting feedback, and holding a roundtable discussion.
Looking forward, we're confident that this ACR will result in a significant reduction in the consumer dissatisfaction that comes from them realizing that they inadvertently ended up with additional software installed, while preserving the ability for app vendors to monetize through offers.