Mobile Adware… the crap we deal with for Free apps (Editorial)
Jun 26, 2013 8:30 AM –
Based on findings from mobile security firm Lookout, I wanted to open the dialogue about mobile adware and the awareness of and/or consumer’s level of comfort with it- as smartphone usage soars. The security & antivirus company “defines adware as an ad network that exhibits one or more of the following intrusive behaviors without requesting appropriate user consent: display advertising outside of the normal app experience, harvest unusual personally identifiable information, or perform unexpected actions as a response to ad clicks.” And implores such software should give users a prompt to agree to or decline mentioned actions before performing them.
Many developers rely on ad networks to monetize their apps thus giving them away free. Many users are willing to deal with the trade-off of seeing ads. However, some ad networks get way too overzealous about their methods and describe this as “taking advantage of opportunities”. In a report by Lookout the top culprits have flagged as adware networks: LeadBolt, Moolah Media, RevMob, SellARing, and SendDroid. I would personally like to point out a few other overly aggressive ad networks: Airpush and StartApp. The latter two allow for ads to be sent in the notifications window and add ‘Search’ icons to the homescreen plus add to or change your web browser bookmarks and default start page. This can be misleading, annoying and disrupt the user experience. I’ve seen these often in free MP3 download apps that constantly get yanked from Google Play, however, Lookout has found them more prevalent in Personalization apps and games; representing over a third of the share of affected.
In summary, though the global likelihood of consumers that will download an app with adware is low, 1.6% of Lookout’s users were affected, this was higher than other mobile platforms. The company even estimates more than one million U.S. Android users downloaded adware in the past year. Other key stats from the report projects approximately 6.5% of free apps on Google Play contain adware, and significantly higher in third-party app stores. A final word for developers, please caution and research the ad network’s reputation before incorporating into your app, be responsible with collection of user data and use strong encryption when storing and transmitting user data.
That stated… what are you thoughts on adware. Not a big deal? Bad for the user experience? Is it out of control? Were you aware of this? Chime in the comments below!