Google bans nearly 600 apps from the Play Store for disruptive ads, including many from Cheetah Mobile
The Google Play Store hosts a significantly larger number of apps than its iOS counterpart. This is partly due to the fact that Apple’s app submission process is arguably more rigorous than what Google has in place. Because of Google’s lax policies, the Play Store is chock full of sub-par apps. In a bid to clean up the app store, Google keeps removing apps that violate its policies or raise concerns about user policy. Back in April last year, we learned that a number of popular apps on the Play Store were abusing permissions and committing ad fraud. These included apps from publishers like DO Global and Cheetah Mobile. At the time, Google removed the offending apps from the Play Store and banned DO Global. However, the ban doesn’t seem to have had much effect on Cheetah Mobile.
According to a recent report from BuzzFeed News, Google has now removed close to 600 apps from the Play Store and banned their developers for ad fraud and disruptive mobile ads. Among the banned developers is the infamous Cheetah Mobile. Following the previous accusations on Cheetah Mobile, Google had removed one of its offending apps from the Play Store but allowed the developer to continue offering the rest of its app. However, in the latest string of bans, Google has removed all of Cheetah Mobile’s apps from the platform and the apps no longer offer advertising inventory for sale in Google’s ad networks.
In a statement regarding the ban, Google’s senior product manager for ad traffic quality, Per Bjorke, told BuzzFeed News that the removed apps, which have been installed more than 4.5 billion times, targeted English-speaking users and were mainly from developers based in China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and India. While Bjorke declined to name specific apps or developers, he did mention that many of the banned apps were utilities or games.
In a blog post on the matter, Google revealed that it has developed new technologies to protect Android users from apps that serve disruptive ads. Most recently, the company deployed an innovative machine-learning based approach to identify apps that show out-of-context ads. This new approach helped the company fish out the 600 apps that have been banned in the latest wave. However, Google hasn’t shared the full list of apps/developers that were banned. It’s also worth noting that the ban on Cheetah Mobile, which is a publicly-traded company in China, has resulted in a 5.9% decline in the value of its shares.