Level 63
Content Creator
Malware Hunter
Google has removed nearly 600 Android apps from the Play Store for serving up obnoxious, invasive ads that aren’t easily “x’d” out of. The internet giant said the enforcement action was a strike against mobile ad fraud.

Google said on Thursday that the apps violated its disruptive ads policy – and are therefore also banned from Google’s ad monetization platforms, Google AdMob and Google Ad Manager.

One of the violating behaviors comes in the form of serving up “out-of-context ads” – where users are bombarded with ads in places and at times that they don’t expect. Free apps are often monetized by showing ads in-between levels on a game, for instance, or between menu areas – while users are actively using an app.

However, many of the offending apps flagged by Google were found to be showing random, intrusive ads even when the apps weren’t being actively used. Or, if the user attempts to exit the app and navigate to the home screen, the expected flow is instead interrupted by an ad.

Other things that Google considers foul play include commercials that impair or interfere with the usability of device functions – for instance displaying a pop-up that prevents the user from accessing anything else on the phone and which doesn’t go away even if the app is closed down.

“Imagine being unexpectedly served a full-screen ad when you attempt to make a phone call, unlock your phone or while using your favorite map app’s turn-by-turn navigation,” said Per Bjorke, senior product manager for Ad Traffic Quality at Google, in a posting on Thursday. “Malicious developers continue to become more savvy in deploying and masking disruptive ads.”