Google Play Store has removed almost 600 Android apps due to serving “disruptive” ads, the company announced through a blog post on Thursday. Alongside announcing the removal, the search giant revealed that it had banned all the apps that have been removed from the Play Store from its ad monetisation platforms Google AdMob and Google Ad Manager for violating its disruptive ad policy and disallowed interstitial policy. The increase of smartphone adoption is giving a push to mobile ad frauds in recent times.
As per Google’s definition, disruptive ads are “are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions”. The policy underlines that these ads appear in a way that results in inadvertent clicks and interfere with normal use — without providing a clear means to dismiss the ad.
“This is an invasive manoeuvre that results in poor user experiences that often disrupt key device functions and this approach can lead to unintentional ad clicks that waste advertiser spend,” said Per Bjorke, Senior Product Manager, Ad Traffic Quality, Google, in the blog post.
Google claims to have a machine-learning based approach in place to detect when apps show out-of-context ads. This has helped enforce the latest removal. Going forward, the company is also in plans to bring new technologies “to detect and prevent emerging threats that can generate invalid traffic, including disruptive ads, and to find more ways to adapt and evolve” the platform and ecosystem policies to avoid bad behaviour for both users and advertisers.
The apps that have been removed from Google Play Store were mainly made by developers based in China, Hong Kong, India, and Singapore, Bjorke told BuzzFeed News. However, the names of specific apps and developers remain a mystery.
Bjorke also specified BuzzFeed News that Google had started refunding the brands whose ads were displayed through disruptive ads.
Google attempted to take similar protective measures in the past as well. In July last year, Google banned Chinese developer CooTek for using an adware plugin to send disruptive ads even when an app was not in use. The Android maker in the past also spotted hosting apps on Google Play Store with adware.