Play Store's new "Ad"venture

Emre Çitak
Apr 27, 2023
Google Android

The Play Store, which was once only meant for recommendations of apps, has now evolved into a platform for full-blown ads. In November, users began to see targeted promos for apps when they opened the Play Store's search menu on Android.

However, Google reassured users that these were proactive recommendations for apps they might be interested in and not ads. Fast forward to today, and many users are reporting a new wave of Play Store search ads.

Mishaal Rahman, an Android expert, recently received a tip about these new ads. A subsequent Twitter conversation revealed that this feature is being widely rolled out. Users in the UK, Japan, and several other regions have reported seeing ads when tapping the search bar, indicating that Google may be testing this new feature on a larger scale.

See Mishaal Rahman's tweet series below.

Differentiating ads from recommendations

Unlike the recommendations that were introduced in November, these new ads are clearly distinguishable. Each suggestion has a clear "Ad" badge, which appears alongside proactive recommendations. Users who have the proactive recommendations feature enabled on their accounts may be the only ones seeing the ads.

The interface for these ads has also changed. Compared to last year's rollout of search suggestions, the new interface includes more information about each app, such as user rating and total number of downloads. This information appears in the subtitle beneath each suggestion, whether it's an ad or a proactive recommendation. Besides that Play Store is full of malware right now.

The new revenue stream for Google

Ads have become a significant part of Google's revenue stream. As a result, it is not surprising that they are becoming more prominent on the Play Store. This could be Google's new revenue stream to compensate for the losses it's experiencing in Play Store revenue in regions where lawmakers have mandated third-party billing systems.

Recently, Google unveiled plans for alternative Play Store payments in the UK, where the company would take a reduced cut of app sales, following similar policy changes in India and South Korea.


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  1. GuckFoofle said on April 27, 2023 at 11:34 am

    May I recommand the awesome alterntive Aurora Store.
    No ads, and it connects to the Play Store catalog with an anonymous account.
    It doesn’t need the google framework, and it’s open source :

    1. Anonymous said on May 2, 2023 at 12:36 am

      And F-Droid as an alternative, ethical store with only libre software, and anti-features clearly marked in the rare cases there would be some left. For those Play Store apps that can’t be found there either in a cleaned form of the same or as an equivalent app, Aurora Store indeed. It can be installed from F-Droid by the way:

      and it works without a Google account.

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