Google has removed about 600 Android apps and banned their developers from the Play store and its ad networks.
This action is part of a massive crackdown on ad fraud and “disruptive” mobile ads. Even big developers were affected. One of the biggest is the publicly traded Chinese company Cheetah Mobile. Its entire suite of roughly 45 apps in the Play store was removed. Many of the banned apps, which had been installed more than 4.5 billion times, were utilities or games. According to Google, the reasoning for banning these speciﬁc apps was that they breached two of the companies policies regarding how they advertise. Google’s disruptive ads policy forbids developers from displaying ads when their app is not in use, and from displaying ads in a way that “results in inadvertent clicks.”
Google already deployed new technology late last year, “an innovative machine-learning based approach” , to automatically detect if apps were displaying ads when they were not in use. “We give [developers and publishers] a notice and a warning [the ﬁrst time a violation is detected] and allow them to correct the problem,” Per Bjorke, Google’s senior product manager for ad trafﬁc quality said. Google has even begun to refund brands whose ads were displayed in disruptive ways.