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Google bans 600 Android apps over dodgy, annoying ads

Google has announced a whopping 600 Android apps have been removed from the Play Store due to the presence of ‘disruptive apps’.

In a blog post on Thursday, the company explained a clamp down on apps that display advertisements in unexpected, invasive or malicious ways, inside or outside of the application itself. Google says these ads impair and interfere with the usability of the apps or the device.

“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,” Google says.

The company says the out-of-app practices can lead to accidental ad clicks with users often disrupted from normal activities like making a phone call, unlocking their phone, or using turn-by-turn navigation apps.

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Google considers this practice to be mobile ad fraud, because it is wasting the advertising spend of genuine advertisers. Not only have the apps been banned from the Play Store, they have been banned from ad platforms like Google AdMob and Google AdManager.

The company isn’t naming or shaming any of the apps or developers at present, but says it is getting better at spotting the disruptive practice.

In the blog post, Per Bjorke, senior product manager for ad traffic quality, added: “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.

“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.”

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