Uber Tests Push Notification Slots for Third-Party Advertisers techcrunch.com

Rebecca Bellan, TechCrunch:

Uber recently launched its new advertising division and in-app ads. Apparently, those ads aren’t staying within the app.

Instead, ads from other companies are being sent out as push notifications, much to the chagrin of some Uber users. Over the weekend, people turned to Twitter to complain about the notifications, sharing screenshots of ads, including one particularly popular one from Peloton that Uber had sent out. One of the primary complaints: notifications are being sent out when users aren’t engaging with the app.

I get businesses that want to promote their own services in notifications. I do not like it — apps like Doordash thoroughly abuse push notification privileges, and nobody at that company or Apple seems to care — but I get it. But selling users’ screen space to third parties? Appalling.

When Apple formally permitted ads in push notifications in March 2020, a behaviour developers had long engaged in regardless of App Store rules, I guessed something like this might happen:

Notably, there is also no requirement that push notification ads be a promotion for the app or its features. It seems perfectly legal under these rules for unscrupulous developers to sell push notification ad slots to third parties. Gross.

Apple also permits ads in Live Activity views.

Uber’s aggressive advertising appears to be a perverse and unintended consequence of changes to the above App Store policies combined with its desperate need to find a business model which does not look like an inferno of investor funds. The future is what we make of it and, increasingly, businesspeople have decided dystopian science fiction is awesome, actually.