Android Dev Learns How Far is Too Far for Ad Revenue

The developer of a popular app that is used to turn off mobile data called APNDroid “learned his lesson” when he got his app pulled from the Android Market recently.
Here is the story direct from the dev’s blog:

A few hours ago I received email from Google that notified me about the fact that my app APNdroid (1.6M downloads, 4.5 average rating) was suspended because it violated some policy. No exact reason given, I responded to the email and now I am waiting for the response.

What has happened? In the last update of the app I introduced new ads provided by AirPush. These ads are not visible as part of the app, instead they appear in notification bar. They will appear max once a day and are easily cancelable (as any kind of notification). This update has started the wave of negative user comments and 1-star ratings.

I do realize that I should have probably notify user about these new ads in app directly, not just in What’s new section on Android Market, but I still think there is no reason to such a panic and definitely not to suspend the application. Users who don’t like advertising are able to purchase the paid version without ads. Also, I still think these ads are the best kind of ads for the user, because they don’t stand in the way while the application is used, they can be cancelled easily and they do not appear very often.

The app got pulled in usual Google style, with no clarification about what policy was breached. But the dev got wise when he started to get constant poor feedback about his new revenue structure with ads being displayed directly in the notification bar.

The good news is that the app is being reinstated by Google, and the developer admits to learning his lesson, and appreciating the feedback he got from users. He put a quote up on the post updating it:

Guys you are right, this can’t be compared. TV ads are there only during the show, while push ads appear anytime, even while you do not use the app. I completely missed this point.

I do apologize to all the users who were negatively impacted and I’ll do whatever is needed to get the application back. In the meantime you can either downloads Beta version of upcoming APNdroid release or purchase the Pro version for minimum possible Market price of $0.99 (or adequate in other countries).

I for one applaud the dev for paying attention to his user base. He put something in that users rejected, and instead of getting all upset, he thought about it and made a move to correct the situation. There is a lesson here for all devs on what the pain threshold is for users on ads. I know that I would go batty if I had ads popping up in my notification bar, it is the reason why I don’t use groupon any more. I don’t mind ads inside the apps themselves, I am all for devs getting paid.

I take this a story of success, since the outcome is something that is desirable, the community controlling the market in a small way, giving some boundaries, and the developer responding.

  • He should rather read more carefully, or do more testing.

  • The idea of any add popping up in my notifications is really going to far …i recently reported an app malicious because i thought the notification was coming from another app installed by the first …this sort of add is the kind of thing that could sink the platform if it got overused

    no one wants that kind of level of intrusion

  • tom_hb

    Those AirPush ads equal 1* ratings. I got an offer from them but after having a quick look at their site I knew how users will react. This type of ads is a killer, people will crucify any app having them. Good that dev leant his lesson and communicated it quite well.

  • Larry

    Thank you for talking about this. I’m really surprised no other Android blog has commented on this. I sent the tip over the Droid-life and Phandroid yesterday, and not one of them posted on this. Let’s hope this teachers not only Devs, but also ad companies the limits of the ad revenue model. Mainly, it’s fine when the ad is in the app itself, but having it pop up on our notification bar is really crossing a red line.

  • Joe

    There’s nothing here that actually indicates the reason for suspension was AirPush, is there? For all we know, there was some other unknown reason. Maybe Google saw a sudden influx of negative reviews and that’s what caused it?

    I mean, I HATE AirPush as much as the next guy, and refuse to use apps that use it, but that doesn’t mean that’s what happened here.

  • Deoki

    I’ve been having a hard time because of this. Some douche dev decided to implement AirPush into his app and hasn’t said anything! Not even a frikking remark on the modification log! I’ve flashed a new ROM on my Galaxy S and installed about 100 apps, so, after a day, the stupid ads started appearing on my notification, AND IT’S DRIVING ME NUTS!!!

    • Install aLogcat and run it right after one of the ads pops up. You should be able to dig through the logs and figure out which app it spawned from.

  • Doctor McShip

    This developer knew he was playing with fire. He claims he didn’t know why his app got pulled but it’s pretty obvious. Also he claims a lot of downloads but that’s before he did that Ad change. Lesson learned: don’t be a douchebag.

    • Mksreddy

      What he

  • airpush is the pop ups of the mobile market, and while kudos go to the developer for changing, the attitude of, hey – they can pay to turn ads off – is the real lesson here. Don’t expect the consumer to think like you, and justify this way, because it’s proven that people DON’T pay to turn ads off, they just turn your app off.

  • Blargh

    Please people, tell me how Airpush ads are worse than regular adds ?
    They are actually less invasive.
    Do you understand that apps do not actually get made out of thin water and that developpers need to make some money ?
    No aps using Airpush should put a big notice on startup about it and and tell user that if they don’t agree then to uninstall the app *now*.

    • Anonymous

      If you make a decent app, then put a price on it. No need to use these dirty tactics to make money. You are either a dirty dev yourself, an employee of Airpush, or an ultimate stupid idiot.

      • Blargh

        If that can make you happy, I can be all the three at the same time.

        Under Android, most people will just use free stuff and don’t want to pay for anything (I said *most*, not all).
        Some type of apps are more appropriate to being paid apps while the free+ads model is more adapted to other apps. Except admob brings next to nothing unless you get a loooots of downloads.

        Looks like the notification area is a taboo and sacred “don’t touch” area while in-app you can have many in your face ads, nobody complains. Go figure…

  • Anonymous

    I hate these devs and the Airpush company all together. I always buy my apps because of these dirty tactics, but where is respect? It is all about Money, f$$$ these people.

  • Inman

    Airpush Responds to User Privacy Concerns – mandates 100% user opt-in.