Update: A source with knowledge of the program advises me that the Catch ’em ad was present only during the beta. The app itself has since been removed from the App Store, which I understand to be for breaching guidelines.
Apple recently started offering developers the opportunity to buy search ads in the App Store, allowing their apps to be shown when users search for particular keywords. Those ads have now started showing up for U.S. users.
The theory is that it allows deserving apps from smaller developers to be seen by more people, giving them a better shot at competing with the big boys. Early examples, though, are not encouraging.
For example, search for Pokémon Go, and you get an ad for Catch ’em, an app which appears to be just copying the idea rather than bringing anything new to the party (below). Other examples posted similarly seem to show ads that are just hijacking popular search terms with me-too apps.
Apple says that it takes steps to ‘deliver relevant ads while respecting user privacy,’ but it’s not yet clear what level of vetting takes place in practice.
If you’re a developer who wants to give it a shot, Apple is offering $100 of credits to try out an ad to see whether it works for you. If you do try it, please share your experiences in the comments – likewise if you spot particularly useful or not-so-useful examples.