Google has just deleted a staggering 600 dodgy apps from the Play Store and banned their respective developers. The tech giant has also banned the app developers from its ad monetization platforms, Google AdMob and Google Ad Manager. This effectively prevents them from monetizing their Android apps.
According to Google, those apps were violating two of its advertising policies – the disruptive ads policy and disallowed interstitial policy.
The company defines disruptive ads as those that are “displayed to users in unexpected ways”. While ads can appear in-app, the tech giant was seeing a rise in what it calls “out-of-context ads”.
Such ads appear on top of other apps, or on the device’s home screen, even if the user is not active in the app in question. The ads often don’t show any clear means of dismissal, while users have no clue from where they originate. This results in inadvertent clicks that “waste advertiser spend”.
A BuzzFeed News report claims that a majority of the banned apps are from China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India.
Most of them were utilities or games aimed at English speaking users. The removed apps had been installed more than 4.5 billion times in total.
China’s Cheetah Mobile is apparently a repeated offender. Google had previously removed some of its apps from the Play Store for ad fraud but allowed the company to continue offering other apps.
Following the recent crackdown, Cheetah Mobile’s entire suite of over 40 apps has been removed from the Play Store. It has been banned from Google’s ad networks as well.
Google develops new tech against malicious apps
Android devices are more secure than ever but app developers have become equally savvy in deploying and masking disruptive ads. Every now and then, we see reports of dodgy apps sneaking into Play Store. Google is finally cracking down on developers who create seemingly innocuous yet fraudulent apps.
Per Bjorke, Google’s senior product manager for ad traffic quality, said the company has developed new technologies to protect against this behavior. “We recently developed an innovative machine-learning based approach to detect when apps show out-of-context ads, which led to the enforcement we’re announcing today,” Bjorke said in a blog post.
Google has dedicated teams working on detecting and stopping malicious developers that attempt to defraud the Android ecosystem. It has detailed a three-step plan to ensure that “users and advertisers are protected from bad behavior”.
The company says it will continue to invest in new technologies to make the Android mobile ecosystem healthier.