Impact of location permissions on Ad Revenue

For many apps which do not use location info as part of their apps functionality, it is suggested that they avoid enabling coarse/fine location for the ads.

However, if it has great impact on ad revenue, it MIGHT be worth including this permission - since users do not seem to be overly concerned about it - esp. COARSE location.

What impact have developers seen from enabling coarse/fine location permissions - did that raise their ad revenue greatly ?

How does COARSE location differ from the location info gathered by ad networks or Google Analytics etc. ? Is that info available in the app, or is deduced from the IP address as the app downloads ads from their ad servers ?

ACCESS_COARSE_LOCATION permission allows the app to get a general idea of your location using cell phone tower data.
ACCESS_FINE_LOCATION is exactly the same, except it can also access your phone’s GPS for precision pinpointing.

Keep in mind that according to the Android reference manual, either of those permissions also allow location tracking via ‘Wi-fi’ (assumedly using the same methods as Google Analytics, or ad networks targetted at PC browsers), but as far as I’m aware, you can do this type of tracking with just the INTERNET and ACCESS_WIFI_STATE permissions. (which the vast majority of ad networks happen to require :wink: )

So far I have not used COARSE/FINE location in my apps (to help the ad revenue - even though some ad networks do suggest those permissions be used). The reason is that the app itself did not require those permissions - and this is a standard thing Google mentions (in Google I/O 2013 videos etc.) that to avoid asking for such permissions for ads if your app doesn’t already use them (for example if it is a car key locator app already using those permissions then it is ok).

However, I have seen that some apps do follow the ad networks suggestion of using COARSE/FINE (I would guess COARSE would be ok, but FINE would be too intrusive). However, I fail to see the value of this since most IP-address-tracking would reveal the city of the user and I doubt most ads would require greater granularity than city-level in their ad targeting (?)

The question is - do these apps see higher revenue after including this permission ?

It worth to try it if u have more EU and American user base. Obviously these are regions that do get paid more then others. So, if u will show to adnetworks the location of your users u might get more impressions from them. But, if you got Asian and etc other low-paid-regions, better dont put it.

I have mostly US and EU traffic - so you are saying (without changing anything else) - maybe put out an update with JUST those permissions added to AndroidManifest.xml - and then see what the ad revenue behaves like.

And then can turn it off say after a week.

I say this because if Google bothers to talk about putting excess permissions in it’s Google I/O or youtube videos - then is it also included in their list of things to consider before banning an app ?

I think in Google IO they were talking about permissions like something that will have an effect on rating and visibility of the app. Less external libraries and permissions your app got, more it will be visible to users. I dont see any point of being banned by having some permissions in your app. This is the first thing that users accept when installing some app/game, so it’s completely user’s choice.

If u will decide to test it out, I would be very thankful if you will share the results.

I might try it - maybe later - but the problem with turning the permissions up (just remembered) is that I think if there is a CHANGE in the permissions (i.e. new permissions added) - I think there was a thread here were we discussed this some time ago - ok, found the thread:


And the answer (as suggested by a FAQ page on AppFlood website - i.e. purely informational) where they warn that if you increase your permissions from what they are in previous versions, then there is a slight disadvantage that “auto-update” will not work for that pre-existing Active User base - since the user has to be shown a new set of permissions (i.e. Google Play wants users to have chance to review any changes in permissions).

So if you have additional permissions, then an auto-update doesn’t happen - but user is shown update screen - which I am guessing means that he gets a notification and then in Google Play under “My Apps” he will have it listed with an “Update” button which can be manually used to update. What effect this will have if user then reverts to earlier (fewer) permissions is not clear - would the update then go through automatically (?) or would be stuck in “requiring a manual update” mode ?

So this is a slight risk for someone with an app already out there which they don’t want to touch (or if they are testing other things with the app and don’t want the stats messed up because of this).

The odd thing is … this would be easiest to try with a new app - but with a new app the stats would not be large enough to make the results meaningful maybe …

So I might try it - but remembering this caveat would give me pause, as I would be willing to defer this testing until have I finished with other tests.

One alternative maybe to publish a dummy/test app and actually test out if publishing a fewer permission app update later will revert users back to automatic (or if they will be stuck in “manual update” mode once it has been triggered by one higher permission update for the app).

These two permissions force the developer to put content rating to high maturity or medium but not low. Without them developer can select content rating to Everyone and increase downloads three times.

Does the rating really figure into app visibility or end-user affinity for the app ? I would guess that most users do not look at the maturity rating of an app before downloading.

Google Play application in the mobile filters by default depending on user preferences (age and other params). i.e if your app is high maturity, It will not be displayed for low maturity people. I noticed this in one of my apps when downloads declined suddenly because of these two permissions. So, you lost revenue from some users and your app get lower in ranking because of lower number of downloads with these permissions.

That is an interesting piece of data you have provided.

I have avoided using these COARSE/FINE location permissions thus far - I wonder if there are developers who HAVE switched and have observed same/different behavior.

Practically, I don’t know HOW many android devices actually have age settings in place - most kids would be using Android devices AS-IS - so I don’t know how Google would get their age data ?

Maybe from the user’s gmail account