One of the largest app developers for Google’s Play Store has been banned from offering their applications to Android users across the world. The action came after a BuzzFeed report found that code within the apps made it appear that users were clicking on the ads even when the application was not in use, and the applications were listed in the store under generic names, seemingly in an effort to hide the fact that they were created by DO Global. This led to incorrect results, causing advertisers to believe an application was more popular than it was and draining the battery life of Android users who downloaded the application from the Play Store. As a result, not only was DO Global banned from providing apps in the app store, they also were banned from Google’s AdMob network and no longer able to market their products through Google’s mobile advertising network.
Half of the application developers app have already been removed as of April 26th, with the remaining expected to be removed over the next few days. The developer had over 100 applications available for download and has accumulated more than 600 million downloads throughout the course of their time on the play store.
The developer, owned by the Chinese tech giant, Baidu, is not the only company found in the recent sting to be committing ad fraud, but they are the largest. Over 5,000 applications were audited in the effort, with the majority of the offending applications coming from DO Global Apps. The research shows that ad fraud is not just limited to DO Global Applications, but is a bigger problem than many may realize. Arete Research Senior Analyst, Richard Kramer, told BuzzFeed that, “Ad fraud is simply the norm in China (and for many other apps), and… Google should be doing far more to prevent it, even if it would materially reduce sales. They cannot claim ignorance of, or deny the problem.