Spammy ads in the notification bar die this week as Google’s latest Play Store changes take effect



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?

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I had a brief discussion with my wife about Airpush notifications over the weekend. She downloaded an app that had Airpush notifications and IMMEDIATELY removed it once she started getting the ads in her notifications. So annoying. I’m glad that Google is taking steps to stop these ads.

  2. Hopefully the go apps no longer push ads to there. Those were really annoying to see.

  3. There’s a special place deep below Hell for airpush and the like.

  4. This is a smart move on Google’s part, but I’m compelled to point out that users have always had the option of uninstalling (or never installing) the offending apps.

    1. This is true, but it wasn’t always easy finding out which apps delivered these types of ads. In any case, this is a much better solution that should do away with the need for the user to have to worry about it at all.

      1. You can access the application informations with just a long press on the notification, so it’s not so difficult to find it out.

    2. yes but it is also annoying when you like said app but it just happens to be really really annoying when you arent using it.

  5. Sadly this doesn’t seem to affect Freemium apps that are constantly bothering you to play the game or buy their latest game related crap. I’ve dumped several games because of this nonsense.

    1. Just block notifications for this app…

  6. Lookout ad detector is your friend

  7. Nice!!! Next step, ability to remove carrier bloatware without rooting.

    1. “Fingers Crossed”

  8. I uninstall all apps with ads as soon as I see an ad. I’ll buy your app, but I don’t do ads.

  9. Now it will show up within the mobile Gmail app :(

  10. AIRPUSH IS DEAD! YES! The world just improved

  11. I always one star’d apps that use airpush.

  12. WIN

  13. Is that Froyo in the screen shot? Man, 2011…

  14. “(like all the freemium games that bug you to check up on your virtual town or farm every now and then)” why android apps need a proper way to ‘quit’ like a desktop os, besides force quiting in settings

  15. It’s about time! These spammy apps are super annoying. I haven’t had a huge problem with this, but there were a couple of times I started getting these kinds of ads in my notification bar (and the ads being put on my homescreen). Thankfully Airpush Detector always had my back and helped me locate and uninstall the offending app. I know this may seem hostile to the freedom that is Android, especially to certain developers, but this was never a good feature, and it only annoyed, confused, and hurt users, and made them want to uninstall the app anyway.

  16. I’ve just been blocking notifications from those apps. LoL!!

    This just saves me the trouble. It’s actually a good measure for those that don’t do that.

  17. Any app, ANY APP, that puts a &$@% ad in my notification bar gets immediately uninstalled. That’s about the most intrusive, annoying thing you could possibly do to me (on my phone).

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