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Google Play to introduce mandatory "ad funded" label - report

App developers must register relevant content by January 2016 or risk suspension

Google is introducing a mandatory label for all apps that are funded through advertising, with developers required to register appropriate content by January 2016.

An email sent to all Google Play developers - obtained by Droid Life - announced the company's plans to expand an initiative introduced at Google I/O in May. At that time, the "ad-supported" label was only intended for apps grouped under the Designed For Families program, but Google now wants every app to state that information.

"By January 11, 2016, you must sign in to the Play Developer Console and declare whether your apps contain ads (such as ads delivered through third party ad networks, display ads, native ads, and/or banner ads). After this date, the ads declaration will be required to make any updates to your apps."

Google has also warned that misrepresentation of ad content could result in suspension from the Google Play store. It also reserves the right to apply the label to any app at its own discretion.

This is the latest example of Google's push for transparency in how app content is monetised. The company abandoned the use of the word "free" in descriptions of content with in-app purchases over a year ago, with Apple following suit shortly after.

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Latest comments (7)

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend2 years ago
I have no problem with this, just as long as you don't need to do anything to the app itself.
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Paul Tricklebank Programmer 2 years ago
@Darren I haven't had time to look my self but the email I got suggests that you can do it all from the developer console.
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George Williams Owner 2 years ago
I really wonder what Google are up to. Almost every man and his dog know that if an app is 'free' it will either have IAPs and/or Adverts.
There's already displays stating IAPs present and now they want to take the extra step for adverts. If Google did more to promote paid apps on their store and did more to drive Indie content maybe things would be different.

With my first 'major' app not too far away, I will seriously have second thoughts putting it on GP and will probably make is iOS and Amazon App Store only.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 2 years ago
Almost every man and his dog know that if an app is 'free' it will either have IAPs and/or Adverts.
If they know that, they're wrong. The majority of the free apps I use regularly don't have adverts. Some are open source, others not, but the developer's doing it for a reason other than income, and some are part of a larger service that bills in other ways (such as Slack or any of the Google apps).
With my first 'major' app not too far away, I will seriously have second thoughts putting it on GP and will probably make is iOS and Amazon App Store only.
My suspicion is that this will cut deeply in to your market penetration; I suspect that most users on Android+Google phones (as opposed to Android but not other Google software, e.g. Kindle Fire) are like me: they can't be arsed to install Amazon App Store even when Amazon offers them a $25 free credit, and simply search Google Play for apps when they're looking for something. It's your business of course, but my advice would be to prioritize putting it on Google Play if you're going to make an Android version.

But I'm not sure I see what your issue is here, anyway. What's wrong with making it clear to the customer that they're going to see advertisements? It seems to me merely a matter of enforcing basic honesty.

By the way, paid advertisements aren't always completely obvious these days. Sure, the ones in standard format at the bottom of the screen are easily identifiable, but vendors are also displaying advertisements in other, somewhat more subtle ways as well now, integrated in to the main flow of the app itself.

Knowing when I'm seeing adverts paid for by a third party, rather than inserted by the developer because they believe it's a good app, helps me better judge my level of trust. For example, when Clean Master suggests an an anti-virus tool after I've finished cleaning junk files, I do like to know that this is likely to be a random ad for some other company's AV tool, rather than an AV product from the same company that produced Clean Master, and so I'm initially not going to treat it with the same level of trust as I'd treat another product from the same developer (though admittedly for Clean Master that level of trust is not very high).
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George Williams Owner 2 years ago
From my albeit limited experience, I've made more money on Amazons platform than Google Play as I test the waters. And the problem I have, is where and when will it end? We already have to disclose business addresses, that IAPs are included and now adverts.

And I totally refuse that anyone downloading a FREE GAME - not software does not expect to see some adverts. As I said in my main post, if Google Play did more to support Indie developers, I guess I wouldn't be so picky - but they don't. Dealing with them is like facing a brick wall and looking for some movement on it.
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Paul Shirley Programmers 2 years ago
@George got plenty of free games down the years with neither IAP or adverts. I also have a disturbing number of paid for apps with IAP, ads or both, often bolted on after purchase. It's so common I no longer buy apps from the store. With my user hat on I'm 100% for these warnings.

With my dev hat on, my reading of the conditions means even putting a search link for your other apps on the store might require the ad label. Using an image for the link definitely would, using a button - who knows. While abusive uses like 'Where's My Water' splattering huge self promotional links everywhere need to be caught, Google need to properly clarify what minimum threshold applies. Google are very bad at looking after their devs though so that probably won't happen.
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Curt Sampson Sofware Developer 2 years ago
George, when I encounter a business that doesn't even want to give me their street address, my first thought is, "what sort of nefarious things are these folks up to that they can't even give out such basic business information?" Trying to hide like that is behaviour quite typical of scammers, but not, in my experience, of legitimate businesses.
And I totally refuse that anyone downloading a FREE GAME - not software does not expect to see some adverts.
You can do that, but ignoring evidence placed right in front of you that shows that your beliefs are wrong is not a good way to do well in business.

You're well within your rights to dismiss the large fraction of the community that spends significant time in free games that do not have advertisements (such as the 1.1 million who have downloaded World of Tanks Blitz on Android alone). But I suggest you might do better in business in the long run if you try to understand the potential customers out there that disagree with you, rather than simply deciding to completely ignore them because you think that they're wrong to feel the way they do.
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