Educational App Store Certification and In-App Advertising

In-app advertisements are tempting for developers. They're easy to implement, require little ongoing maintenance, and can pay reasonably well. However, you're an educational app developer, and the rules are different for your products.

First-Party Advertisements

There is nothing wrong with letting your app users know that you have other products if it does not break the flow of their educational experience. The review rubric does not penalise apps that show apps from the same developer as long as you do it with restraint.

  • Do have an option to visit a page showing your other apps. Anyone who clicks this option will likely be a fan of your current app and consider buying more, so make the content clear and enticing.
  • Do make sure that your other apps are at least equal in quality to the current app. You want to maintain the goodwill you have built with app users.
  • Do update your 'Other Apps' page if you remove any from the stores. Broken links make apps feel bugged.
  • Don't advertise consumable in-app purchases in your app; preferably, don't include them. Hint packs and cosmetic upgrades don't contribute to learning and distract students.
  • Don't aggressively advertise upgrades to your app. It is okay to let players know that they can add more levels or subjects through in-app purchases, but making kids dissatisfied with the app in its current form will harm their learning experience.
  • Don't push your other apps during the primary activity of the app. It will interrupt the user's learning and, in a premium app, cheapen the experience.

Third-Party Advertisements

We do not feature any apps that contain third-party advertisements in the Parent App Library or Teacher App Library. The review rubric penalises apps that do so, as ads can only be a distraction in an educational app.

Many schools will not install ad-supported apps on their devices. Even if they do, schools tend to be aggressive users of ad-blocking software, which will deny you any revenue from them anyway.

  • Do use third-party apps as a method of providing a trial to parent or teacher users. If your app is free to download, removing the ads can motivate users to upgrade to the premium version. When the app is certified by the Educational App Store, the premium version will be the one we assess.
  • If you do decide to use advertisements for your educational app, you can partially mitigate the harm they do by avoiding the following:
  • Don't use ad networks for apps aimed at kids. If you can't control the advertisers, you cannot be sure that the ads served in your app are appropriate. The ad networks do not have flawless controls, and rogue ads can slip through.
  • Don't have advertisements present at the same time as learning content. By their very nature, ads 'steal' the user's focus and direct it to something other than the app's learning material. Interstitial ads are better than banner ads during play.
  • Don't ask for any permissions needed solely for advertising purposes. At worst, you could be breaking laws such as COPPA, which prohibits geolocation and ad tracking in digital material aimed at kids.

Many apps are out there that are advertisement delivery machines built to look like educational apps. This is one of the reasons the Educational App Store's certification process exists—to help parents avoid such apps.

We don't want parents deceived into thinking that a free app educates their kids when it only works to give big brands more exposure.

Think carefully before you put ads into your educational app. You do need to monetise your app, but do so in a way that does not detract from it—aim high. Aim for a five-star Educational App Store certification.

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