Google has removed nearly 600 apps from the Google Play Store for containing deceptive or disruptive ads. The tech company has also banned these apps from its ad monetisation platforms Google AdMob and Google Ad Manager.
This comes as part of its ongoing efforts to combat mobile ad fraud. Google has a dedicated teams focused on detecting and stopping malicious developers that attempt to defraud the mobile ecosystem. According to Google, disruptive ads are ads that are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions. While these can occur in-app, one form of disruptive ads on the rise is something called out-of-context ads. This 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," Per Bjorke, senior product manager, Ad Traffic Quality at Google said in a blog post.
Google has also invested 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 its platform and ecosystem policies to ensure users and advertisers are protected from bad behaviour. Its recently developed technology is an innovative machine-learning based approach to detect when apps show out-of-context ads, which led to this new enforcement.
Google has been clamping down on disruptive ads in recent times. Google Chrome revealed earlier this month that it will be blocking intrusive ad formats within short form videos from 5 August 2020. More specifically, the ad formats affected will be long, non-skippable pre-roll ads or groups of ads longer than 31 seconds that appear before a video and that cannot be skipped within the first five seconds; mid-roll ads of any duration that appear in the middle of a video, interrupting the user’s experience; and image or text ads that appear on top of a playing video and are in the middle 1/3 of the video player window or cover more than 20% of the video content.
In a blog post, product manager Jason James said Chrome will expand its user protections and stop showing all ads on sites in any country that repeatedly show these disruptive ads.