MetSer­vice app ads prove ‘an­noy­ing’

Kapiti Observer - - FRONT PAGE - TOM PULLAR-STRECKER

The MetSer­vice is un­der fire for al­low­ing ad­ver­tise­ments on its newly-up­graded smart­phone app, with some users com­plain­ing on so­cial me­dia that the ad­verts it dishes up are too in­tru­sive.

The app has re­ceived only ‘‘two stars’’ out of five on Ap­ple’s iPhone store, with ad­ver­tis­ing the big­gest gripe since the up­grade.

Not all the feed­back has been neg­a­tive, but users have com­plained in par­tic­u­lar about a full­page ad­vert show­ing on their phones when the app is launched.

MetSer­vice spokes­woman Jac­qui Bridges said those ads were in ef­fect a hold­ing page that was only briefly dis­played, once a day, while the app was load­ing.

The full-page ad­vert dis­ap­peared once peo­ple pressed a ‘‘con­tinue’’ but­ton, or re­gard­less af­ter a few sec­onds, she said.

The MetSer­vice pre­vi­ously charged $2.69 for its An­droid app, and $2.99 for the iPhone ver­sion, but has in­tro­duced ad­verts as a trade-off for mak­ing them free of charge.

The state-owned en­ter­prise was one of the first public sec­tor or­gan­i­sa­tions to ac­cept ad­ver­tis­ing on its web­site in 2004 and it quickly be­came a ma­jor earner.

It said in a min­is­te­rial brief­ing late last year that it was a ‘‘key rev­enue gen­er­a­tor for the com- pany’’.

That was de­spite a blip in 2011 when scam­mers man­aged to slip mal­ware into an on­line ad on its web­site, which in­fected vis­i­tors with a com­puter virus.

Bridges said the MetSer­vice’s ad­ver­tis­ing rev­enues were com­mer­cially con­fi­den­tial be­cause it was com­pet­ing with the likes of Fair­fax Me­dia, which pub­lishes Stuff, and NZME.

But one clue to its sig­nif­i­cance is that the MetSer­vice has do­nated more than $1m of ad­ver­tis­ing space to char­i­ties and non­profit or­gan­i­sa­tions since 2011.

Be­cause the An­droid and iPhone apps are now free, the MetSer­vice has agreed to re­fund cus­tomers who paid for them af­ter Jan­uary 1, if they can pro­vide proof of pur­chase.

The charges had be­come a bar­rier to downloads and ad­ver­tis­ing al­lowed the MetSer­vice to make the apps avail­able at no cost to users, it said in an ex­plana­tory note on its web­site.

‘‘We’re aware some peo­ple feel strongly about ad­ver­tis­ing and would like to ac­cess ad-free weather con­tent. Some peo­ple are pre­pared to pay for this. Un­for­tu­nately there isn’t an ad­free op­tion at this stage,’’ it added.

The new weather app.

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