Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Google Play Developer Program Policy Update

On 23 August Google released a policy update concerning Play Store apps. Its most important points are:

Apps and their ads must not add homescreen shortcuts, browser bookmarks, or icons on the user’s device as a service to third parties or for advertising purposes.


Apps and their ads must not display advertisements through system level notifications on the user’s device, unless the notifications derive from an integral feature provided by the installed app. (e.g., an airline app that notifies users of special deals, or a game that notifies users of in-game promotions).

It basically means that icon and notification ads are from now on banned. If you have any existing apps that utilize them, you have to post an appropriate fix in 30 days or you can get suspended.

All major ad networks offering icon and notification ads are working on changing their API appropriately or they have already done it, having predicted this moment to happen sooner or later. I got emails from AirpushTapContext, Leadbolt, and Tap For Tap ensuring me that they are prepared for this situation and will publish new APIs soon.

So, is this change good or bad? From the user's point of view it's great. I hated those invasive ads and I'm glad they're gone. On the other hand, I know that some developers used home screen icons and notifications as main monetizaion techiniques. Without them their revenue will probably plummet and they might be less eager to create anything new in the future.

Fortunately, my only app that uses the banned techniques is Ad Showcase, which presents all kinds of ads offered by LeadBolt. I haven't decided yet if I'm going to simply unpublish it (since it was an experimental project anyway) or reimplement it using the new API. I was also considering adding notifications and/or home screen icons to my live wallpapers, since I couldn't find a good way to monetize them, but now I guess my dilemma resolved itself.

What do you think about the change? Is it going to influence your income? Let me know if you have something to share and remember to update your apps so that they don't get suspended.


  1. Time for a new kind of monetizing model? Maybe apponsor is of interest for you. apponsor is partially also affected by the new google policy, but there is a possibility how you can use the apponsor SDK in very attractive and profitable way and this is in my opinion compliant to the Google content policy.
    You can offer your app users to use your app without any in-app advertising for an unlimited or limited (1 year) period. If they want to use the app this way (free of in-app ads) they have to subscribe for the newsletter of the sponsor.
    The sponsor will pay a commission for each subscriber up to 0.40 € Cent (regardless of those who uninstall your app later).
    If they disagree they get in-app ads and in this case the process of the request for subscription can be repeated as often as you want. Hereby apponsor is offered as an alternative to in-app advertising, whereby the user does not suffer from any restriction in the usage of the app. A documentation for an example implementation can be found at the apponsor dev portal (get startet).

    1. It looks quite interesting. I've never heard of such a monetization technique. I'll definitely check it out. Thank you.

      BTW, if you're reading this comment and have some experience with apponsor, please share it with others.