New Ad Policy on Google Play

Folks… discussion on new ad policy…

My understanding is that notification ads are now not allowed on Google Play.

And that content unlockers MUST have a close button.

And shortcut/icon ads and browser changes needs consent from the users before installing them in.

Time for a change of monetisation strategy?


  1. Ad Walls
    Forcing the user to click on ads or submit personal information for advertising purposes in order to fully use an app provides a poor user experience and is prohibited. Users must be able to dismiss the ad without penalty.

It’s quite vague. What do “fully use” and “without penalty” mean? So if you have levels or features to unlock via TapJoy or Leadbolt unlocker, and the user chooses not to unlock those features, does that mean he can’t “fully use” an app? I hope not!

It looks like that is what it is. I too hope it is not, as Google does not support many countries for selling paid apps or in-app-purchase, and the developers in these countries rely on ads as revenue source.

Well, I know several people (myself included) who spoke out about dropping icons/etc and notifications … and called them SPAM.

Guess we now know which side of the fence Google weighed in on :slight_smile:

Well… if developers mention about the notification and icon/browser ads in their description, and yet users download them and complain… I call that stupidity on the user’s side.

On the other hand, sneaking those ads in is definitely spam.

The problem is that a lot of developers that use those types of ads don’t go out of the way to inform the user. I would say that even putting it in the app description is not enough to notify most users. I don’t think users read every word of the description before downloading. Is that stupidity on their part? Maybe, but that is the way it is.

So It ends up hurting android as a platform. It comes across as a virus to users. I applaud Google for taking a stand against it to give a better overall experience.

There may be a handful of apps that don’t have another good way to monetize besides being a paid app and the developer notifies the users correctly and the users accept the ads. But those cases are a minority and I think this change will do more good than it will harm developers.

Google Play Developer Program Policy (“Content Policy”) Update
As of July 31, 2012, the new Google Play Developer Program Policy (“Content Policy”) will be in effect for all new applications submitted to the service. Any pre-existing applications must achieve compliance or be voluntarily unpublished by the developer within 30 days of the issuance of this notification.

Seriously - did anyone NOT see this coming sooner or later? It was hurting Google ecosystem and it had to go.

The way I read it notifications are allowed as long as you get the users consent first and they don’t look like they are SYSTEM notifications.

Edit - Actually for notifications you don’t need consent because it doesn’t change the users device. You only need to make sure they can tell which app the ad has come from and you can’t simulate a system notification.

I’ve never seen a good implementation of notification ads that a) I was warned about sufficiently by the app and b) made it clear where they were coming from. Ergo spam.

To be honest, most of those cases sound spammy to me and intrude too much into the device. Ads for monetisation should be used as a way to get revenue while the user users the application, not just because it happens to be installed.

Note that with Jelly Bean you can now long press on notifications to find the app info and choose to suppress notifications.

Very unclear license about interstitial ads I hope that someone will explained it in a bit more details.

For example, is it legal to use TapJoy if you do not offer IAP and how to offer IAP if Google do not support your country?

I use notifications ads in like 10% of my apps and i don’t think they are an issue if well implemented.

Personally, i am going to release an update of all the apps with notifications ads with a EULA style of implementation and i will state it categorically what ads are implemented, if you accept it, you get the app, if not then you don’t get the app and redirect you to uninstall the app. If one accepts the conditions, and at some point of the app usage he/she feels the ads are intrusive then i can have a button somewhere in the app to redirect the user to the url to opt out of the notifications(in case of airpush- which i use). Otherwise, the users have the ultimate right to uninstall the app.

Secondly, i will have to highlight the same information on the app description page. I believe this will be more than enough to keep the user in the know and i will be waiting to see if google guys will have a problem with such an implementation. I hope they will have a more diplomatic way to help developers correct any part of the app that violates the terms of google play and not being rushy as they are used to be - giving half baked generalized information and consequently suspending the app. Having said that i am waiting to see how the ad companies targeted in this change of policy are going to react to these latest developments.

I like how all the blogs and news sites write about an AirPush (and cohorts) smackdown/ban etc. I think the new policy doesn’t immediately exclude those ad networks.

It must be clear to the user which app each ad is associated with or implemented in.

Ads must not simulate or impersonate system notifications or warnings.

My interpretation:
If the notification ads mention the app’s name and aren’t deceiving the user by tricking them into thinking it is a notification generated by the OS itself (E.g. “low battery!, click here for your free battery upgrade app” combined with a low battery icon), everything should be fine.

If this is correct, and Push ads can be used in apps I will do something like this:

  1. EULA dialog on first use of application or update that will ask user to use this push ads and icon .
    If user says OK, than ok push ads are.

If user says NO, he will get banner style ads.

Hope this is real case of use.

In the end, everything regarding push ads will be in the hands of the push networks … I am not sure, if they are able or willed to start checking every ad if it is ok for the google play policy … if they don’t do it, your app gets suspended … risky…

But maybe there are getting many apps suspended now - not sure how many apps/games are still maintained or care for the new policy.

Much more concerning is the fact, that they now disallow to unlock features by forcing the user to click on ads … that’s really vague … come on google…

Is making a TapJoy Offer = “clicking an ad”? Normally “force to click an ad” is prohibited by the ad networks themselfs already, so it seems, that they now do not allow tapjoy or similar services…?

google should be a bit more clear of what they want to say and don’t let it up to the dev to try understanding their terms …

Another possibility is, that it is supposed to be that unclear … trying to scare devs away from tapjoy etc so they use IAP instead (where google makes money) …

sigh… thank you google for this very vauge policy.

i have no idea if it says notification ads are allowed or not.

I think they are not allowed … or at least they want to get rid of it. They spoil android experience and have spammy behaviour.

The networks will change some things and everything is fine again … does the policy now say, that the ads are only allowed when app is running … ?

i didn’t see anything about that, its not a very long policy to read.

Ads Context
It must be clear to the user which app each ad is associated with or implemented in. Ads must not make changes …

That’s up to the ad network to implement. They have to use some sort of EULA and also giving the option to remove ads easily. If they don’t do that, every app using them risks to get suspended.

It’s all about context, which I do fully understand and also do agree completely. If I get an ad, I want to know which app is responsible for that.

this is an official response from airpush.

"Regarding the new Google Developer Policy, we will be releasing our latest SDK 5.0 within the next two weeks, which will be in complete compliance with the new Developer Policy. "

so that implies currently airpush is not in compliance, new SDK out in 2 weeks and we have 2 weeks after that to implement it before the google ban hammer strikes.