What you need to know
- Google has removed 600 apps from the Play Store for showing out-of-context ads to users.
- Cheetah Mobile is among the big developers that have been banned from the Play Store.
- The removed apps had been installed over 4.5 billion times and mainly targeted English-speaking users.
Google has announced that it has removed nearly 600 apps from the Play Store for showing disruptive ads, with the help of its newly developed machine-learning based approach to detect such apps.
In addition to removing the apps from the Play Store, Google has also banned the app developers from its AdMob and Ad Manager monetization platforms. The removed apps were found to violate the search giant's ad policies by serving disruptive ads to users. Google defines "disruptive ads" as ads shown to users in unexpected ways, impairing the usability of device functions.
One form of disruptive ads that has been on the rise recently is what Google calls "out-of-context ads." These ads are served when users aren't actually using the app and result in unintentional ad clicks. Examples of such "out-of-context ads" include full-screen ads when attempting to make a phone call or unlocking the phone.
According to BuzzFeed News, one of the most prominent developers to have been banned from the Play Store is Cheetah Mobile, which was accused of committing ad fraud in November 2018. All 45 of the company's suite of apps have been pulled from the Play Store.
In a statement sent to BuzzFeed News, Per Bjorke, senior product manager at Google for ad traffic quality, said that the removed apps were installed more than 4.5 billion times. The apps were mainly from developers based in China, India, Hong Kong, and Singapore. While he did not name any specific apps or developers, he did say that most of the banned apps were utilities or games and primarily targeted English-speaking users.