MASTERCLASSING

Google kicks almost 600 apps out of the Play Store for running disruptive ads

David Murphy

Google has removed almost 600 apps from the Google Play store and banned them from its ad monetization platforms, Google AdMob and Google Ad Manager, for running “disruptive ads shown outside of the app”.

In a blog post explaining the move Per Bjorke, senior product manager, ad traffic quality, said Google defined disruptive ads as ads that are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions. He added that while they can occur in-app, one form of disruptive ads Google has seen on the rise is something it calls out-of-context ads, which is when malicious developers serve ads on a mobile device when the user is not actually active in their app.

“This is an invasive maneuver (sic) 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,” Bjorke says. As an example he cites a scenario where a user is attempting to unlock their phone or make their call and is unexpectedly served a full-screen ad. He adds that Google has developed a machine-learning approach to identify this type of activity.

“As we move forward, we will continue to invest in 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 our platform and ecosystem policies to ensure that users and advertisers are protected from bad behaviour”, the post concludes.

One company that has been hit hard by Google’s move is Cheetah Mobile, which publishes a lot of high-use utility aps. It issued a statement today saying that it had been informed by Google that the company's Google Play Store, Google AdMob and Google AdManager accounts had been disabled on February 20, 2020.

The statement points out that in the first nine months of 2019, Cheetah Mobile generated 22.6 per cent of its total revenues from Google, and says: “Pending the restoration of Google collaboration, the company expects its ability to attract new users and generate revenue from Google may be materially adversely affected from February 2020.”

The statement goes on to say that Cheetah Mobile is in continuous communication with Google to appeal the decision, clarify any misunderstanding, and adopt any requisite remedial measures to restore the disabled accounts, but adds: “The appealing process could be time-consuming, and the company cannot guarantee that its appeals will be successful.”