Developers, please, don’t ever use SellARing to monetize your app


I’ve always felt notification bar ads are the worst things to have ever been created. However, such is the beauty of the human mind that we’re always, always capable of exceeding our previous achievements (whether for the good or for the bad).

So, what could be more annoying than ads in the notification bar? How about audio advertisements played every time you make a call. If you’ve read my articles in the past, you’d know that I would uninstall any app that comes with AirPush or something like that in it.

Developers, I’m going to take it to a whole new degree with selling if I find it in your app: not only am I going to uninstall it immediately, I’ll ensure to leave a scathing review on Google Play with a one star. Then I’ll tell anyone and everyone I know that your app is a disaster. And finally, I’ll name and shame you on Phandroid itself if I feel like it.

Believe me, I know how difficult it is to make money. My own app isn’t doing well for various reasons, but that doesn’t mean I’m ever going to sell out my users in such a horrible way. It’s not going to get you anywhere. Make as good an app, with as enjoyable a UX as possible, and we’ll help you out if we can by reviewing your work.

[via Google+]

Raveesh Bhalla

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  1. Agreed.

  2. Might I suggest teaming up with other android fansites about this? One fan site might not be enough to ward away the use of this, but teaming up with Android and me, android police, android central and whatever other android sites in order to shame users of this pretty terrible sounding system could be enough to prevent this from ever being an issue.

    1. Android Police already has it:
      And I would wager $5 that Android Central will have it featured by the end of tomorrow. Most of the Android websites circulate roughly the same news, just with their own spin on it. Not that I’m complaining, it’s kinda nice to hear what other people have to say on the various topics.

  3. Audio ads are something we aren’t going to be able to escape. You realize the operating system we love was created by the advertisement company that is Google. What harm does this do anyway?

    1. Yes, we can escape audio ads. Just as when VZ added a $2 charge for phone or online bill payment, that was quickly reversed with a public outcry, this can be defeated. First don’t download those apps that use it. Second provide negative press for any app that does. Third, support app devs that don’t use the audio ads. (Buy their paid version) Remember that a developer doesn’t make any $$ when no one downloads the app. The customer does have some power in the market. #buyerbeware

      1. I agree that the customer does have a say. But when Google comes to Verizon and says look we can generate $$$ million in advertising charges by replacing your currently ‘useless’ ringing with audio ads.

        I ask one more time, who is being harmed by hearing an ad instead of a ring?

        It wont interrupt your phone calls and it may actually include some information you are interested in.

        1. I can’t imagine Google being that stupid. Verizon, maybe, but they’d reverse course damn quick once their entire customer support infrastructure gets cratered by customers screaming in rage or panic.

        2. Do people ever actually buy the crap these low life ads advertise?

    2. don’t know about you, but I only call when it’s more urgent than a text. when that’s the case, I don’t want an advert slowing it down

      1. Who said the ad would slow things down? It will only be playing in place of the ringing. Once the person on the other side pics up the ads would stop.

        1. i cant believe people voted down that comment. as if telling it how it is was a bad thing. i guess people who have their mind set on something dont care to learn how it really works. also, no ads for emergency calls (that means you wont get an ad by dialing 911)

          1. I also want to apologize. Apparently SellaRing will replace the ring with a 10 second ad. Doesn’t specify whether the ten second ad must complete before the call can be answered which is theory would be asinine.

  4. easy, dont install those apps.

    1. even better, devs make apps worth paying for and not rely on bullshit like this.

  5. Kinda harsh there, raveesh. But I would be pretty pissed if I heard an ad when I made a call. Bar ads don’t bother me though. Just press clear. Its better than having 25% of the screen taken up by the damn ad ( fkn angry birds!)

    1. I’d rather have an audio advertisement that I have to do nothing to clear. As it stops when your call is answered then pesky notification icons invading my bar and requiring me to clear them out.

    2. I agree. Harsh.

      I removed my free app from Play because most of the 1 star reviews were ignorant/mis-informed. I’m not saying yours would be, but it sounds like you’ve already made up your mind in advance, and I feel that is ill advised.

      Some devs are just starting out with ads and don’t really know what to expect. I don’t think an app should be slammed so hard if it is otherwise good, and the dev may be persuaded to rethink the ads.

      That said, I don’t think I’d ever use this ad scheme. For my apps, ads are useless anyway. My mostly technical audience are mostly running adblockers, and I feel you need millions of users for ads to be worth more than a few bucks a month anyway.

      1. Maybe you should have been clearer in your description. Don’t blame reviews for your mistakes.

    3. When the ad can’t be removed after you uninstall the app, that’s a huge concern. He wasn’t harsh enough for crap like this.

  6. I’m left wondering why the link to your app goes to a Phandroid article from 2010 about the Android 2.1 update for the OG Droid…

    1. Thanks for pointing that out, no clue how they got mixed. Fixed now.

      1. not fixed for me…

        1. me neither

      2. Still definitely *not* fixed.
        Basically the same crap that I’ve pointed out a few times in the Android Overload articles is going on here. In those, the URL being linked to gets added immediately after the current URL address (of the AO article), usually resulting in an “article not found” error. Only difference in this case is that the “current” URL is of the article from 2 years ago, but for some reason it actually works instead of giving an error message.

        1. Probably a wordpress bug

        2. finally resolved

          1. I can confirm. Hopefully this won’t happen anymore in the AO articles as well.

  7. WTB Adblock app

  8. To me, this isn’t as bothersome. In this instance, I’m waiting anyways, so hearing the ad isn’t as obtrusive, unless of course it delays my call. As long as it’s just taking the place of the ringback tone, I don’t mind and I think it’s certainly better than having to dismiss ads in the notification bar.

  9. Actually, I wouldn’t mind it if the ad is relevant. Lyk sometimes on Youtube when the ads show, I actually watch them because they be cell phone, gaming, and car ads. And they be funny. LoL!! Lyk the Super Bowl commercial ads. They’re always relevant and I don’t mind them playing while my video buffers.

    So as long as the ad is relevant, I won’t mind it. I especially won’t mind the sandwich ad. The one about Jimmy Johns I think? It’s a radio ad where they talk fast? LoL!! That one is funny.

    1. The case in that situation is that you are on YouTube. Developers have the right to do any advertising they want inside their own apps, regular banners, full screen interstitials, videos, whatever. But once I’ve closed your app, you have no right to make money from me by interfering with the rest of my phone usage.

  10. LOL voice adds?? That’s a new low for humanity.

    1. Ever listen to the radio? Voice adds are not new, and are one of the oldest type of add except for print.

      1. Terrible audio ads are exactly why idont listen to commercial radio, ever. Frankly ad ringtones would be a public humiliation, I’d throw my phone into a lake if it did that to me.

  11. I’m shocked by how many people think this isn’t a problem. I understand that we all have a choice to not install apps utilizing such an advertising scheme, but there’s a line that shouldn’t be crossed, and it was crossed a long time ago by AirPush. This is just another step in the wrong direction.

    1. People who don’t think this is a problem aren’t thinking it through enough. Many People I know set up custom ring tones so they can know who is calling without looking at their phone. Sellaring effectively overrides this behavior – changing the way people have set up their phones to work. Also, note that customers don’t get a say in who buys ad time. How’d you like to be in a business meeting, job interview or on a date and have a viagra or singles ad start playing. Not good.

  12. Typical developer-hostile Phandroid dreck. The “punishment” is harsh and over the top. If some “greedy” developer tries to make a few pennies from the spoiled, cheapskate Android user community in a way you don’t like, just uninstall and move on with life.

    1. Or make an app that’s not a pos, and charge for it.

      1. if more people bought apps that would be an excellent idea. unfortunately, with free alternatives out there, we get less than desired purchase numbers

  13. Wow, as a dev, I’m hurt even though I don’t use this ad network. Also I agree, adding ads before a call endangers the user and could result in death, if dialing 911 and the murder hears the ad.

    1. The add only replaces the ringing of the phone that you call. The murderer could also hear the ringing. The add stops as soon as the person on the other line picks up, so I fail to see how it is dangerous.

  14. I would be upset if i found this feature in an app, and or just not install said app. A concern i have is the portion of the community that does not root, may be plagued by this in the future by bloatware apps preinstalled on their handsets. Although i am a team vzw fan, they are notorious for these types of tactics, and i could see other providers possibly trying this for the right dollar amount by participants of this advertising. Just my thoughts. And the rest of you haters, SUCKIT. If you dont like these articles then go somewhere else for your info, and quite trying to shoot the messanger!

  15. Any devs implementing this or Notification ads can f**k off.
    The worst thing with that Airpush app was that it doesn’t tell you which app the ad was caused by so you need to do a little investigating to figure it out (or use one of those Airpush detector apps). This is like that dodgy Spyware/Adware on PC that makes pop-up ads appear.

    It’s just low and pathetic money grabbing.

  16. I am curious if that is even legal. Honestly, they can place ads in the notification bar, that isn’t affecting my phone and how I use it. however, playing an audio ad when I make a call is getting intrusive and does show that the developers are purposefully trying to disrupt my phone. Inexcusable, every developer that uses this should close their doors!

  17. I think this is being slightly blown out of proportion. First, it stops playing the second they pick up… so it’s literally just replacing the ring tone. I would rather get something out of it and hear an ad than listen to ringing over and over.

    With that said… I don’t think just any app should be able to do it. Like what happens when there are more than one app that want to put ads on your calls?

    If anything, this ad network should make a standalone app that pays the consumer, effectively subsidizing the cost of your phone bill. I could also see Metro PCS doing something like this and passing the cost onto the customer. Verizon/AT&T’s greed may want them too, but they’re the “premium” carriers and none of their contracted customers would let them get away with it.

  18. RAVEESH has it dead on. I am a dev as well. But let me clarify a few things.
    1. Most consumers don’t understand how ad supported apps function. “not downloading” isn’t a real answer for the masses.
    2.This type of revenue stream taints the market for those of us that use more passive ad based methods. Effectively, this crap hurts every dev.
    3. Paid apps would be great if the android consumer were like iphone consumers, but they aren’t. They have an abundance of access to free apps. Additionally, FREE apps are more likely to be downloaded.
    4. The real future, and this is strictly my opinion, is “in app purchases” or conversion to paid to remove the ad based portion. Real choices for all consumers, paid and free. I am in no way suggesting “lite” versions.
    5. Breaking through the market into success is hard enough. Let’s concentrate on quality, choices, and a better rating system with more review control. Changing the refund window might be a step in the right direction. If your app is solid, 24 – 72 hours shouldn’t worry you.
    Just my thoughts.
    Again, thanks RAVEESH for speaking up.

    1. I still don’t get this whole ad problem. If I get an app for free with ads, the app is either worth putting up with the ads or not. If it’s really good I always pay for it and remove the ads. If the ads don’t justify the apps experience I uninstall it. All of these scenarios involve whether or not the app is worthy. Less and less do I see developers of good apps complaining about stuff like this…

      1. Audio ads that hold you hostage and play before you can make a call are a terrible idea. The next worst idea is an app that shoves ads to your notification bar.

        I don’t think people have problems with ads that run inside a free app — but audio ads and notification bar spamming is whole new level of “Do Not Want”.

  19. and who actually makes phone calls on their phone anymore? Even 911 is going to start taking texts!

  20. Whoever does this gets a 0 Star rating on all of their apps and their developer site is going to be hacked and DDoSed to hell!

  21. No app is worth this, not one app ever written. If it became the norm and wasn’t blockable I’d go back to a dumb phone.

  22. This is absolutely ridiculous, i can’t imagine anyone who would think this is oaky to do. I am the same way, i hate ads in my notification bar. Not only is it annoying but it uses a lot more battery life.

    1. Any App that does this, i dont care how much I like it, it’s getting removed. No service is worth being bombarded by [intrusive] ads.

  23. Hello,

    I’m Yang from SellAring. We’ve been reading many things that people are voicing about our service in the past 24 hours, and we appreciate the opportunity to respond.

    Like our app developers, we cater to end-users. As such we build our service to fit the needs of users who download apps as well as developers. Our purpose is to provide an alternative service for the end user who wishes to install free, ad-supported apps.

    We’d like to clarify a few points which have been written:

    1. We cap the number of ads served to up to 2 ads per day. A user will not hear more than this number of ads per day.
    2. We target those ads, verifying users receive only relevant ads.
    3. We play ads only during the call setup time (we replace the unused ring back tone time in which a user waits for his/her call to be answered), and in any case we don’t slow the connection or cause any delay in the call connection (not even by a nano-second).
    4. Users can opt-out from our service by uninstalling the sellAring-enabled app (e.g. we do not stay on the device once the user removes the app). In addition we offer a direct approach to the user who can send us an opt-out request directly.
    5. We never play ads when emergency calls are made.

    The integrity of our ideas and our actions is crucial as we advance SellAring’s platform. We created the service in order to provide a method to enable app developers to make a real, stable income, while providing an alternative for end users, of using free apps in return for receiving ads . True, not all app developers look to monetize, we approach the segment of developers who utilize their apps as an income source (secondary or main).

    We believe it is up to the end user to decide if he or she finds the ads agreeable in return for what he/she received (free app), and consider our service as an understandable form of “payment” for the app they’ve downloaded. Our network performance (CTR) is high, and users respond positively to the ads. This is also how we are able to pay high eCPMs to app developers.
    We are open to all feedback and criticism, in fact we are here to actively encourage it, but it’s surely important that any debate should be rational and fair.

    1. Don’t give up your day job, Yang, this business model is DOA.

    2. And another thing, since you mention CTR: Just how does one click-through on one of these silly things, anyway? How does this actually work? Say you’re making a call and you hear an ad for discount thigh cream or whatever, and you say, hmmm, I want me some o’ that, then what do you do? Press “4” on your dialpad and drop your call and go straight through to an an operator standing by in a boiler room in Manila? Or what?

    3. Yang, thanks for replying but just let me explain why exactly I have a problem with your product. I have no issues with developers monetizing their apps. In fact, I’m one of those who never, ever uses ad-blockers.

      But, developers only have the right to monetize when I’m actually using the app. The worst part of your product is how you openly state that an advantage for developers is that they can make money even from users who don’t use the app, as long as it’s installed.

      Putting ads instead of ringtones is purely intrusive in any way you can think of. You say that we have the we as users have the option to get rid of the ads by uninstalling the app. That’s no good for the developer, right?

      1. Ok, so having an app installed doesn’t mean you use it? Thats when the uninstall option comes into play. Why install an app that you won’t use? You have personally written on phandroid about uninstalling apps you don’t use so problem solved. And at the end, when you say uninstalling an app isn’t good for developers, then that means they should have made an app that was worth keeping installed.

        It is still too harsh to publicly bash them for having ads in any form. Especially for an app you don’t pay for. Find a paid app with ad support and im right behind you with torch in hand.

        1. I test a ton of apps for reviews on Phandroid, some I don’t remember to uninstall. Also, there are several apps that I use only once in a while. Examples are Shazam, Evernote, Pixlr-o-matic. In fact, other than a few, I don’t use any app on a daily basis. And no matter how much I like the app, the moment I hear an ad because of one of them, its deleted. Like I said, the app can have as many ads inside it as it wants, but it has no right to advertise when I’m not using it.

          1. i guess in a way i understand. i personally fell that 2 voice ads a day ( when i barely make any calls at all) works for me. especially if it comes in place of the pop up ads that come out in the middle of apps. i hate those things. many apps are ad supported and this shouldnt be considered different. no one should be publicly slammed because of how they choose to make a few pennies off an app that isnt costing the consumer money. like complaining about the sponsors for the free stuff you get at the end of a marathon (yes i know you pay for the marathons but you get what im saying). like i said, a paid app with ads of ANY kind is a different story.

        2. I think the point is that developers should stay away from this whole Sellaring mess. It’s toxic. Lie with dogs and you get fleas, and all that. Your app can be the best app in the whole app world but people will delete it right quick if you piss them off.

  24. I woke this morning to TuneIn Radio having pushed an ad to my notification bar in my tablet! And worse, it is a PAID APP – the Pro Version! I was shocked. It was an ad for a news source and suggested you start your week off listening to them. I am f***** pissed.

    1. Yep. I just deleted Samurai versus Zombies from my Xoom because it was starting to throwing ads in my notification bar. Screw that!

    2. Yeah, got that one too.

  25. I visited their site and watched the video with a demo. The absolute worst thing I was appalled to hear, The software REMAINS on your phone even if the original app is uninstalled. That is just ridiculous!

  26. I’m glad I read about this ahead of time. I cannot imagine the fury I would feel if I called someone and got an ad in my ear. I’d blow a **** gasket.

  27. So has anyone seen the air push ad in phandroid? I just saw one today. Kind of funny when you see this article ;)

  28. Wow there are dirtbag low lives then there are SellAiring

  29. These scumbags must be outlawed and hung by the nuts shacks

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