Friday, February 17, 2012 - Spam might be coming soon to your Android too

Having moderately successful application on Android Market (a few hundred thousand downloads or more) changes the rules of the game. Instead of knocking on their doors, you get invited to closed app stores owned by smartphone manufactures or carriers. Very same way you get invited to join all those ad networks that are supposed to bring you in some revenue.

Ads found within mobile apps are OK. In a perfect world, they would not exist but in this one they are acceptable. In most cases, ads are the only way for application developers to monetize their efforts; and there is nothing wrong in efforts being monetized. Out of the 10 apps that we have published through Android Market, 6 of them contain AdMob banner ads, placed at the bottom of the screen. The revenue from these ads does cover some of our expenses but once the app sales start building up, the ads are out. Anyway, back to the story.

Recently a sales representative from Airpush - the 'next-gen mobile ad network for Android apps' - contacted us. They were not shy about broadcasting their offer and, as you can see from their web site, they guarantee 10 to 30 times more ad revenue. This sounded more than interesting and it deserved a closer look. Just how were they able to promise such high CPMs? Read on ...

Airpush ads come in three different flavors: Push Notification Ads, Icon Ads and Signup Ads. The last one (though currently in a closed beta) is the standard ad screen that is displayed when the application launches or is triggered by the developer later during the app session, so I do not find it that interesting and innovative. However, the first two flavors, the Push Notification Ads and Icon Ads, they are the real refreshment in mobile ad industry.

    Push Notification Ads

    Our lovely Android notification tray. With all that icons like battery status, signal strength, and all those important notifications regarding received SMS and email messages, etc. Well ... why have the developers been waiting until now? Let the ads march in! Ads are important, and we should be notified about them. The very same way we are notified about our missed calls.

    Image (C) by

    Icon Ads

    Clean smartphone desktops are overrated. Who needs order within those small screens anyway? We need more shortcuts, shortcuts that would 'link to valuable user content such as mobile search and daily deals'.

    All joking aside, this is a serious issue. It would be sad if this ever catches on. Just imagine what kind of user experience you would have with gadgets of such a personal nature such are smartphones! So here is what we think about it and what we said in response to the Airpush sales representative:
    We find your ads too invasive. They are more like spam. We would uninstall the app that introduced them on our device and we would give it a low rating accompanied with a raging comment. So, we are not interested and please do not contact us again.
    Ads are already here, and let's keep them inside the apps themselves. Let's not allow them to infest our phones. For all those who would like to see what kind of Airpush horror they might expect to see on their phone, the demo is available here:

    I haven't tried this demo out as it asks for 'Read phone state and identity' permission.

    I should be fair and mention that Airpush offers opt-out options. For Push Notification Ads, you can opt out, ad by ad, by clicking on provided opt-out links. You can opt-out completely as well, by installing Airpush's opt-out application or providing them with your IMEI number on their web page, which ever you prefer. It looks like you can't opt-out from icon ads, but Airpush says that you can remove those easily with one click. Well, we can remove them, shouldn't that make us happy enough? ;-)

    Update: the same goes for LeadBolt.