Google Cleans Play Store of Nearly 600 Apps for Ad Policy Violation

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Google reacted severely against nearly 600 Android apps in Play Store that were violating two ad-related policies by kicking them out of the repository.

The penalty went further with banning the apps from the company’s ad monetization platforms (Google AdMob and Google Ad Manager), essentially cutting authors any hope of getting revenue from their apps through Google.

Ad-serving principles

In an announcement today, the company explains that offensive apps featured advertisements in a way that was in contrast with the disruptive ads and disallowed interstitial policies.

The two principles infringed ensure smooth user experience and help combat mobile the many forms of ad fraud, including harmless apps that disobey the rules.

When referring to disruptive ads, Google describes them as displayed in a way that could cause the user to click them unintentionally.

“Forcing a user to click an ad or submit personal information for advertising purposes before they can fully use an app is prohibited,” reads the policy.

These unruly promotions can appear in-app but a form that’s becoming more popular is when an ill-intended developer serves ads on a mobile device when the user is not active in their app.

Also known as “out-of-context ads,” they can be displayed in full screen at an inconvenient time, e.g. using the phone for a different task, unlocking it.

“Malicious developers continue to become more savvy in deploying and masking disruptive ads, but we’ve developed new technologies of our own to protect against this behavior” – Google

Using machine learning, Google is now able to detect when apps display out-out-of-context ads. This method helped find the apps that have been removed from the Play Store.

The company says that nurturing technologies that detect and prevent new threats that can generate invalid traffic is the plan for the future, along with adjusting the platform and the policies in a way that protects both users and advertisers from malicious intent in apps.

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