Google bans Ad Blockers from its Play Store

After retiring Google Reader, a highly unpopular move by the reactions on the Internet, Google made another move that is infuriating part of the company's user base. According to first hand sources, Google started to ban ad blockers from its Play Store. What this means is that ad blockers like Adblock Plus, AdAway or Ad Blocker are not available anymore on Google Play. The following section of the Play Store Developer Distribution Agreement was cited as the reason for that by Google:

4.4 Prohibited Actions. You agree that you will not engage in any activity with the Market, including the development or distribution of Products, that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized manner the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party including, but not limited to, Android users, Google or any mobile network operator. You may not use customer information obtained from the Market to sell or distribute Products outside of the Market.

When you try and open the applications on Google Play you receive the notification that the url was not found on the server.

adblock plus removed

Installed copies will continue to work for the time being, but they won't receive updates anymore. Most developers urge their users to install the applications directly from the developer website instead to receive updates as usual. Not all apps offer their own updating mechanism right now though. Adblock Plus will receive its own updating routine with its next release. For now, users need to update those apps manually instead. And Adaware already moved to F-Droid which supports automatic updates and the like.

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Android users who want to use ad blockers have still enough options at their disposal to do so. The removal from Google Play on the other hand shuts out the majority of Android users from using those applications as it is likely that they have never heard about sideloading apps before.

Google's main intention seems clear. It is first and foremost an advertising company, and users who use ad blockers reduce the revenue that ads generate on Android. With ad blockers being banned, ads are shown to more Android users and as a consequence, Google's revenue from that increases.

The Chrome Web Store is not affected by this at the time of writing.



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Responses to Google bans Ad Blockers from its Play Store

  1. Nebulus March 14, 2013 at 7:30 am #

    You can look at this from a different point of view: this means that ad blocking is becoming effective enough for Google to take action against it. That also means that people are starting to get fed up with online advertisers and are actively fighting against them - I'm glad that this is happening, and this Google move will slow (but not stop) people from blocking their ads.

    • Pierre March 14, 2013 at 8:49 am #

      Your sentence is complicated and not clear at all. I haven't understood.

  2. Decent60 March 14, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    "(...)that interferes with, disrupts, damages, or accesses in an unauthorized manner the devices, servers, networks, or other properties or services of any third party including,(...)"

    To be honest I consider the ads unauthorized access to the device, as no where on the page with most apps does it say that free or paid versions will display ads and 90% of the time, they are accessed ('clicked') without me actually doing so.
    For most of those things to work, you need root and really all you need to do is just modify the .host file.

  3. KRS March 14, 2013 at 8:52 am #

    New Motto: Be Evil.

  4. BobbyPhoenix March 14, 2013 at 8:55 am #

    It's a sad but true fact ad blockers are a necessary evil. It would be nice to have all of the blockers behave like AdBlock Plus where you can allow non-intrusive ads. I don't mind ads that are just there in nice plain text, or even a small picture. If they get my attention because I see something I like I will click to support the site. Any that are animated and/or have sound is a big no-no. I try to not use blockers, but as soon as the first one shows any signs of being annoying, it gets turned on. I pay $60 a month for my internet, so it's not free for me to surf, so I should be able to surf without seeing annoying ads if I want. I use AdAway on Android for the same simple reason. Not to get rid of ads in apps which are free as I gladly pay for the apps that have paid versions to support the devs, but for when I use the browser in desktop mode. Again I pay for data, so I want to save as much as I can since I'm on a limited plan. Less ads, less data use, and on a small screen real estate is very valuable.

  5. ilev March 14, 2013 at 11:19 am #

    Next Google will block ad-blocking extension and plug-ins from Chrome browser and Chrome OS.

    • Grantwhy March 14, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      Interesting point.

      Does anyone know if there is anything like that "4.4 Prohibited Actions" clause in the Developer Distribution Agreement form for the Google Chrome store etc ?

  6. Shawn Warren March 14, 2013 at 11:40 am #

    Let's add another angle of approach, how many people get zapped from malware being delivered through compromised ad serving networks? Quite a few. So, this is helping to increase the odds that your device will get infected.

    I'm not fond of Goober's intrusiveness and taking up my valuable screen real estate on my mobile devices. Furthermore I'm not liking the idea of the 'forced' coercion of paying for said ads to be delivered to my device. Yes, it counts towards your (the payers) data usage.

  7. DanTe March 14, 2013 at 11:53 am #

    All these folks complaining about ads. How else do you think the developers get paid for their efforts? Or are you those people who believe everything should be free? If so, please stop cashing your pay check. Just stop. Live the way you talk.

    • BobbyPhoenix March 14, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

      @DanTe

      They get paid by having a paid version of the app, or like 99% of the devs who release apps on XDA they have followers like me who donate to them to keep them going. That's how.

    • Nebulus March 14, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

      @DanTe: It's simple, actually. Google (and other sites as well) has the right to show me ads, and I have the right to block them.

      • DanTe March 14, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

        The freeloaders are not complaining about the paid apps. They want the freebies without the supporting ads. And I love how people always claim that they donate. HA. Yeah right.

        As to the simple on right to block ad - thanks for proving my point.

    • rpwheeler March 15, 2013 at 8:09 pm #

      I got my paychecks for years by participating in developing apps which are free for end users. My portfolio includes world-class product lines downloaded more than 1.5 million times. And I don't have any problems if people block ads — as one in developing team I don't get anything from ads anyway. I block them myself for ~14 years.

      I know hundreds of win freeware not infested with ads. I can't understand why you think that mobile developers can't do the same as Win developers.

      If some app bugs me with ads, I write a negative review and uninstall it.

      Well, and they say we have Ubuntu phones ahead. So if Android became too ad-crowded, my next phone will be phone with different OS.

  8. Uhtred March 14, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    In the early days of free website providers, i remember you had to put up with their banner on your webpages. that was fair enough. Seems fair that if the service is free, then ads to generate service provider income be included. I don't however, think it is right to ban adblockers. Instead hardcode so that users who block ads put up with navigating large blocks of empty screen space where the ads would be or time delays representing ads before proceeding to next part. Inconvenient but then you get to use it for free. Pay a small premium to download/use service then you get the option to block ads without inconveniences if you so wish. I think that would be a better soluution.

    • Budley March 14, 2013 at 9:39 pm #

      I've never had a reason to run Adblock software. My arsenal of apps are about 99% paid for. I downloaded and installed Adblock Plus out of spite after reading this article.

  9. Mystique March 14, 2013 at 6:31 pm #

    Nothing new here, just another large greedy company doing everything it can to squeeze another dollar out of its customers, If companies stopped treating its customers with resent and as a cash cow then they might be better off.

    It seems like everyone seems to want to follow the same mistakes as the music industry these days and alienate themselves from the people that put food on their table (both artists and consumers).

  10. Srihari Thalla March 15, 2013 at 10:29 am #

    Seems that Google couldn't reach customers and now is hitting on ad blockers. How silly!

    • rpwheeler March 15, 2013 at 8:12 pm #

      In spite of killing Google Reader and stupid interface changes I'd say that Google even don't want to hear people who are using their services.

      I have a dream that once global software, including web-services, will be managed not by companies, but by non-profit foundations, who respect their users.

  11. Jim S March 15, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    What Google apparently fails to consider is that the users who download an ad blocker are not the target audience for the ads anyway. I have never clicked on a single web ad. I have no intention of doing so in the future. Allowing me to block them simply enhances my experience with Google powered services. There is no loss of revenue - they would not have received any from my lack of click-through.

    • rpwheeler March 15, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

      The same for me: ads are just waste of my resources, pure annoyance leading to anger.

  12. nocturne March 15, 2013 at 1:28 pm #

    For the love of money is root of all evil.

  13. batman March 15, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    just another proof that the "free internet" model doesnt work in the long run.
    someone needs to get paid for the content created....

    • rpwheeler March 15, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

      I think you're wrong: free internet worked well for years, and on PCs people have many ways to block ads.

      Google is not the only game in town - there are (and will be) many mods and independent builds and .apk stores, so if somebody really don't want to see ads, they find a lot of ways to get rid of them.

  14. Ray March 15, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    I foresee that Chrome will stop adblockers too and that is why I still prefer using Firefox. The objectives are clear behind Firefox as a not-for-profit organization and I know Firefox won't be forcing users to see ads.

    • rpwheeler March 15, 2013 at 8:27 pm #

      There can be independent Android mods and Chrome mods. So I doubt that it would be possible to kill ad-blockers completely, — people can try to move on to independent builds, and block even more ads in retribution

      • Martin Brinkmann March 16, 2013 at 4:11 am #

        Well the main idea here is probably to get the bulk of users away from them. Sure, there will be experienced users out there who will continue using ad blockers, but new users who do not find them listed in store? They probably shrug their shoulders and that is about it.

    • rpwheeler March 16, 2013 at 6:03 am #

      I think it's like placebo for those who believe in such model.

      I'm collecting different software for different tasks for many years, since the DOS times. I learned about Ad-muncher and Proxomitron software proxy ad blocker around 1999. In 2001, for example I used Proxomitron to prevent Opera 6 adware version from displaying ads. There were different ways, of course, and many people asked about them on forums, — "How to remove ads from Opera, ICQ..." and so on.... It is not that hard to find answers about how to remove ads if you want that.

      Since then Opera became free and if you ask me "what is commercial or shareware or adware for users browser(s) now", for example, I can't answer — I don't need them, so I don't know them.

      With all that buzz like "smartphones and tablets are the new PCs", I can't understand why this time history should go different way, not like earlier from paid and adware to donationware/free/opensouce software.

      I say to my fellow mobile QA people that if your application annoys user too much, it will get uninstalled and replaced by a competitor application.

      So I don't think that we are going to total insane adware world. If people don't want to see ads, they put efforts to get rid of them. If they dealt with them on desktops, they can do that on other platforms too.

  15. Ray March 15, 2013 at 11:49 pm #

    That could actually set a dangerous precedent. I might be speculating but Google could well block access to Gmail if you are using Adblock too.

  16. Topper March 18, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    They block not only in Play, but in Chrome too!
    From today I can't use them, even with additional plugin !

  17. Topper March 18, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Yes, still it is. But not works :/

    • BobbyPhoenix March 18, 2013 at 1:15 pm #

      Are you sure it's enabled in your extensions manager? Mine is working the way it should.

  18. Topper March 18, 2013 at 3:30 pm #

    I'm sure ofcourse there is icon on address bar.
    But now I see advert that never saw before....
    Never mind, will try another ways.

  19. Todd March 19, 2013 at 1:22 am #

    You can still download Adblock Plus for Android by simply navigating to http://adblockplus.org/en/android-about on your device.

  20. rpwheeler March 19, 2013 at 3:51 pm #

    I want to emphasize that even if Chrome ousts AdBlock from the *store*, it only returns us where we have been: to the software (loopback) proxy ad-blockers like Ad-Muncher, Proxomitron and the likes. May be not so convenient as browser-based integrated ones, but pretty effective, and AdBlock functionality can be integrated into them, I think.

  21. Jojo March 20, 2013 at 3:54 am #

    This is what happens when you are forced to do your purchasing (free or paid) through the company store....

  22. matt May 22, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    oh noes?

    nope

    we'll merely RETURN to using loopback proxies like privoxy

    evilGoogle continues being NOT-good

    privacy RAPE = google profit

    privacy is NOT a commodity; privacy is a RIGHT

  23. Komrade Matt May 22, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    this is what happens when you blindly, NEEDLESSLY bind a google account to an android device

    you've consented to google REMOVING apps from YOUR phone automatically

    foolish foolish SHEEPLE

    you do know that you CAN use android devices AND SKIP adding/creating gmail account, right?

    (hint: yes)

    google LICENSES ActiveSync FROM MICROSOFT -- ergo android can use hotmail/live/outlook to ActiveSync contacts & calendar

    for actual-freeware (as opposed to the malware sh!t fallaciously claiming to be free) use:

    F-droid.org

    my android battery lasts MUCH longer having removed gapps

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