Google Play developer policy overhaul calls time on intrusive ads

Google has overhauled its third-party Android developer programme policies, ushering in changes to the way adverts are displayed in apps.

Our aim is to foster a high standard of app behavior.

Intrusive advertising practices - such as placing ads in system notifications or homescreen icons - is now forbidden, as is the inclusion of bookmarks or shortcuts to third parties on the user's device either as a service to those third parties or for advertising purposes.

Forcing users to click on ads or submit personal information for advertising purposes in order to get full access to an app's capabilities is also prohibited.

"A prominent and accessible target must be made available to users in any interstitial ad so they may dismiss the ad without penalty or inadvertent click-through," the revised policy document reads.

The apps must not replace or reorder the default presentation of apps, widgets or settings on the device, or if it does make such a change it must be made clear to the user which app has made the change. Users must also be able to easily reverse this change and/or uninstall the app completely.

Furthermore, apps must not encourage, incentivise or mislead users into removing or disabling third-party software, unless this is part of a security service provided by the app.

In an email notifying developers about the changes, Google said: "We recognise that some developers will need to change their app and advertising practices to comply with the revised policy, but we believe these changes will help ensure all users and developers can maintain confidence in the standard of apps available on Google Play.

"Our aim is to foster a high standard of app behavior, so you will be able to take advantage of Google Play as a successful platform to distribute your apps and continue to grow your business."

Developers have 30 days to comply. The full, updated policy document can be found here.

This is the second time in a little over 12 months that Google has rewritten its Developer Program Policies.

On that occasion, Google banned the use of app names and icons that were similar to existing apps. It also tightened up ad behaviour, particularly with regard to obstructive or deceptive ads.

Jane McCallion
Deputy Editor

Jane McCallion is ITPro's Managing Editor, specializing in data centers and enterprise IT infrastructure. Before becoming Managing Editor, she held the role of Deputy Editor and, prior to that, Features Editor, managing a pool of freelance and internal writers, while continuing to specialise in enterprise IT infrastructure, and business strategy.

Prior to joining ITPro, Jane was a freelance business journalist writing as both Jane McCallion and Jane Bordenave for titles such as European CEO, World Finance, and Business Excellence Magazine.