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Google Just Banned 600 Apps That Pushed Disruptive Ads From the Play Store

Feb 20, 2020
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The Google Play Store is easily one of the largest mobile app repositories on the market, with over a billion users that use the service daily. With that kind of traffic, there are bound to be some scammers in the mix. Google has never shied away from deleting apps, and even banning developers who engaged in problematic behavior. Today, the company has deleted over 600 apps from various developers for displaying disruptive ads

Google has bought down the hammer on Cheetah Mobile again

In 2018 Chinese app developer Cheetah Mobile was penalized for committing ad fraud through its network of apps. The apps were subsequently booted off the Play Store and the company almost went with it. Today, 45 of Cheetah Mobile's apps have been removed off the Play Store for ad-related transgressions.

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In total, the apps had been downloaded over four billion times, a Google spokesperson told Buzzfeed News. Although Google hasn't provided a list of apps that it deleted, it did write a blog post about detailing what qualifies as a 'disruptive ad'. It goes:

We define disruptive ads as ads that are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions. While they can occur in-app, one form of disruptive ads we’ve seen on the rise is something we call 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 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. For example, imagine being unexpectedly served a full-screen ad when you attempt to make a phone call, unlock your phone, or while using your favorite map app’s turn-by-turn navigation.

The Play Store already has mechanisms that detect badly behaving apps. Google further states that developers are using creative workarounds to prevent their apps from explicitly breaking any rules. Others, however, were not subtle about it all. One of the apps that got deleted allegedly sent fullscreen ads to users when they made a phone call.

First-time offenders are usually let off with a warning, and Cheetah Mobile is far from one. Although Google hasn't banned the developer outright off the Play Store, it could very well happen if they're caught offending again. Lastly, Google has also issues all brands that were affected by the negative ad blitz.

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