Sep, 30 2013


About a month ago, Google made a key change to their Google Play developers’ terms of service. The change affected advertising models that annoyed the heck out of most users. Specifically, Google decided to bring the ban hammer down on ads that manipulate the home screen or show up in the notification bar. As per the developer content policy:

  • Apps and their ads must not add homescreen shortcuts, browser bookmarks, or icons on the user’s device as a service to third parties or for advertising purposes.
  • Apps and their ads must not display advertisements through system level notifications on the user’s device, unless the notifications derive from an integral feature provided by the installed app. (e.g., an airline app that notifies users of special deals, or a game that notifies users of in-game promotions).

Airpush was one of the biggest violators of this unfortunate model, with that company and others like it able to earn close to $150 million for their publishers.

Google gave folks a whole month to get their apps updated and scrubbed clean of this nonsense, and that month is finally going to expire soon. There will likely be some straggler apps that won’t get updated (lazy or uninformed developers, developers who just don’t care, etc.), so if you happen to come across one then be sure to use the trusty report button in the Google Play Store.

Some users are a bit confused by the language in the policy changes, with some wondering if ads meant to drive users back to the app they come from (like all the freemium games that bug you to check up on your virtual town or farm every now and then) are considered violations of the new terms. We assume they aren’t, but we’ll be looking to contact Google for clarification either way.

I can’t say I’ve ever downloaded an app that has used these types of ads, but tons of them do exist, and I’m glad Google’s doing something about it. Anyone who’s read my editorial a couple of years ago when these ads started cropping up knows my stance on them: they suck. They have no place on Android, and I’m glad Google’s finally agreeing with that by taking hardcore action. Anyone else excited about these changes?

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