Google has made some updates to their ad policy and guidance for Google Play developers that will likely be welcome news to users annoyed with the plethora of ads present in Android apps. The changes come on the heels of a new feature included in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean that gives users the power to silence app notifications with just a long press. That change by itself can help users deal with ads that insist on pushing ads to the notification bar.
Within the Developer Program Policies, the section on Ads includes this section on context:
It must be clear to the user which app each ad is associated with or implemented in. Ads must not make changes to the functioning of the user’s device outside the ad by doing things such as installing shortcuts, bookmarks or icons or changing default settings without the user’s knowledge and consent. If an ad makes such changes it must be clear to the user which app has made the change and the user must be able to reverse the change easily, by either adjusting the settings on the device, advertising preferences in the app, or uninstalling the app altogether.
Ads must not simulate or impersonate system notifications or warnings.
Readers may note that last line regarding ads that appear as system notifications. Is the mere appearance in the notification bar sufficient to “simulate or impersonate” a warning? The bottom line seems to be Google’s desire to not have apps/ads that “negatively affect the experience by deceiving consumers or using disruptive behavior.” Failure to abide by the new policies could lead to an apps removal from Google Play and serious or repeat violations could result in account termination.
Below is the full e-mail Google has sent out to Google Play developers notifying them of the change to the policies.
Hello Google Play Developer,
We are constantly striving to make Google Play a great community for developers and consumers. This requires us to update our policies when we launch new features, like subscription billing, and also when we see unhealthy behavior, like deceptive app names and spammy notifications. This email is to notify you that we’ve made some changes to our policies which are highlighted below.
- We’ve added clearer details to the payment policy, and guidelines on how we will handle cancellations in our new subscription billing feature
- We are restricting the use of names or icons confusingly similar to existing system apps in order to reduce user confusion
- We are providing more detail on the kinds of dangerous products that are not allowed on Google Play. For example, apps that disclose personal information without authorization are not allowed.
- We are giving more examples of practices that violate the spam policy.
Additionally, we are adding a new section that addresses ad behavior in apps. First, we make it clear that ads in your app must follow the same rules as the app itself. Also, it is important to us that ads don’t negatively affect the experience by deceiving consumers or using disruptive behavior such as obstructing access to apps and interfering with other ads.
Please take a look at the Google Play Developer Program Policy at http://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html to see all the changes and make sure your app complies with our updated policies.
Any new apps or app updates published after this notification will be immediately subject to the latest version of the Program Policy. If you find any existing apps in your catalog that don’t comply, we ask you to fix and republish the application within 30 calendar days of receiving this email. After this period, existing applications discovered to be in violation may be subject to warning or removal from Google Play.
Google Play Team