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New Google Play policy requires opt-in dialog to show ads (android.com)
76 points by smartician 1306 days ago | hide | past | web | 29 comments | favorite



A little offtopic, but maybe someone can enlighten me.

Right now there are 12 countries that are EU members and who's citizens cannot have Google merchant accounts and therefore cannot sell apps on Google Play. And this isn't even mentioning the countless others that aren't supported.

They promised they'll work on adding more countries, but it's has been years since the Marketplace opened and it hasn't happened.

Their policy also bans other payment processors, so the only way for us to monetize apps is to either serve ads or to start a company in another country, which is a huge PITA.

I do not have problems with either the iTunes Store, or with Amazon. Amazon in particular simply sends cheques by snail mail. What's so hard in doing that?

For a company with the ability to move mountains, all I can understand from this is that Google simply doesn't care about developers like myself.


> Right now there are 12 countries that are EU members and who's citizens cannot have Google merchant accounts and therefore cannot sell apps on Google Play.

really?!

Which countries? Where can I find the list?




> New Google Play policy requires opt-in dialog to show ads

That is false, and anyone who wants to understand the actual policy will have to read the article -- the submitter's title is wrong.

Google suggests and recommends an opt-in / opt-out dialog, but it's optional.


IANAL, could you explain how one can distinguish between optional guidelines, and requirements that absolutely have to be met?

From the linked document:

> You must make it easy for users to understand what ads will be shown in your app, where they will be shown, and what the associated behaviors are, if any.

> Further, you should ask for user consent and provide options for managing ads or opt-out.

So the first one is a hard requirement ("you must"), but it doesn't really explain what's acceptable to meet it. Is the second one an optional requirement, because it uses the wording "you should"? In addition, the same requirement is mentioned again in a set of "guidelines". The whole section is really unclear to me.


> IANAL, could you explain how one can distinguish between optional guidelines, and requirements that absolutely have to be met?

(I am also not a lawyer.) Certainly. Violating a requirement might result in your app being expelled from the Play Store. Violating a guideline might result in a warning or a a strongly worded message to clean it up.

> You must make it easy for users to understand what ads will be shown in your app, where they will be shown, and what the associated behaviors are, if any.

Yes, but this doesn't require an opt-in dialog as the title suggests. The opt-in reference is a guideline.

> Further, you should ask for user consent and provide options for managing ads or opt-out.

There's that word "should", as in "people should avoid walking on the grass."

> So the first one is a hard requirement ("you must"), but it doesn't really explain what's acceptable to meet it.

You've raised an interesting point, one that lawyers are at pains to express if they can. A requirement that's ambiguous loses its authority. A requirement must be unambiguous in its meaning.

> The whole section is really unclear to me.

Yes, in which case it can't really be described as a requirement. These are suggestions, guidelines, not strict rules.


So, in your opinion, do you think opt-in wouldn't be necessary if the app just shows "vanilla" banner and interstitial ads? Is it sufficient to disclose the use of ads in the app description in the Google Play store, and mention them in the privacy policy?

Why mention this opt-in dialog at all if it's optional? I can't think of an instance where a developer would choose to implement this voluntarily.


> Why mention this opt-in dialog at all if it's optional?

But you might ask why mention anything that isn't required. I suspect that Google is trying to get voluntary compliance for behaviors it can't require. The reason it can't require them might be that there are practices that violate the guidelines in Google's own advertisement activities. I don't know this for a fact, but it might be a reason to be less than demanding toward the Google Play app submitters.

For me, this is academic -- I have a number of Android apps at the Google Play store, but they're free and they don't show ads. Which means everybody else hates me. :)

https://play.google.com/store/search?q=paul%20lutus&hl=en


I usually assume "should" and "must" in such contexts to be similar in meaning to rfc2119 [1].

Of course, it's up to Google be be clear with exactly what should or must be done. Unless they want to be unclear..

[1] http://www.ietf.org/rfc/rfc2119.txt


IANAL, but I am an Android programmer.

This kind of language exists in multiple other places in the Android docs for things that are more clearly suggestions. There's not enough consistency, plain and simple, but in the absence of clear "this is a requirement to be in the Play store" language, I absolutely, 100% interpret this as a guideline.

These are "should" and "should not" things, and things which you obviously must do to meet the guidelines are mentioned. To be clear about ads, you must be clear about ads, and you should be clear about ads.

Besides, they can already pull your app for basically any reason. This is just additional buffer, and it's something very few apps do, which includes e.g. Youtube which includes no such EULA when you launch it, no "opt in", it just shows ads on videos when they deem it valuable.


The second is optional at your own risk - presumably they can toss your app if they don't like your implementation.


It sounds more like an admonition than a suggestion or recommendation, but the wording is unclear. They certainly don't explicitly say it's optional.


> They certainly don't explicitly say it's optional.

If they don't say it's mandatory, then it's optional. A mild form of the so-called totalitarian principle, which says "everything not forbidden is compulsory".

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totalitarian_principle


That sounds great, but it's complicated by their use of the word "should," which is often used in both mandatory and optional contexts.


Great distinction, thanks.


Their example policy has some very surprising terms. When you click on an advert, they'll send them your email address. Really? Apps do that kind of thing? That's truly scummy and shouldn't be allowed, EULA or not. No-one expects that kind of privacy invasion on a web browser ad, why should it be allowed in an app?


The wording makes it unclear. Early in the first paragraph it uses the word "must", then says:

"Further, you should ask for user consent and provide options for managing ads or opt-out. Here are some guidelines"

The words "should" and "guidelines" make me unsure, but I can't tell if their loose meaning it intended, or just word choice.


I don't think that this page is actually the policy. The intro text points here: http://play.google.com/about/developer-content-policy.html

And the relevant text in the intro points out that these are guidelines to help you follow the policies: "The sections below highlight best practices and common examples to help you avoid the most common types of policy violations."


Interesting point. The document URL in the original link is http://developer.android.com/distribute/googleplay/policies/... , which implies that it's part of the policies. But it may just be a supplement, with examples and guidelines. It's confusing that these guidelines introduces the concept of an ad opt-in which is nowhere mentioned in the actual Content Policy and Developer Agreement.


FWIW, the official policy document I linked above makes no mention of opt-in whatsoever.


It makes no mention of disclosure of ads either.


It's a shame how god damn _ugly_ ads are in apps. Is it so hard to make them blend a bit better within the app aesthetic?

If your entire UI is a light color scheme, nice on the eyes, don't make the ad 300px high with a bright cyan 2px border.


The ads are served by an external service so not sure how the app developer would prevent that.


I get that; I'm talking about the ad containers. Not the ads themselves.


By telling the external service what color ads the app can show.


The thing with EULAs in Android apps is that I always click decline. I tend to assume that if an app is including a EULA they're asking permission to do something egregious so I just uninstall the app because I don't have the time or inclination to actually read the EULA. (Yes, I actually read, or at least skim them when it matters!)

Anyway, the guidelines seem fairly easy to meet and pretty inconsequential:

> Tell users about your ads—Create a simple, complete disclosure that tells users how your app uses ads, where the ads are shown, and how they can manage ad options. Take common-sense steps to make the disclosure as clear as possible.

Do this in the app description on Google Play.

> Make sure users know—Present your ads disclosure is an easy-to-see location, rather than hiding it where users are not likely to find it.

Do this in the app description also.

> Ask for consent (opt-in) at launch—Where possible, include your ads disclosure in the app description as well as in an Ads Terms, End User License Agreement (EULA), or similar document. Display the terms at first launch and ask for the user's consent before continuing to the app.

This is optional; don't do it. Any modal dialog that asks for permission to do something is UX friction and EULAs are offputting because they're not the norm on Android.

--

The submission title is misleading but I think Google has intended to mislead developers into doing stuff they don't need to do.


If you need some code to implement this in an app, I wrote an example Simple EULA provider here: http://www.donnfelker.com/android-a-simple-eula-for-your-and...

Download, include it in your app. DONE. Move onto the next problem.


[deleted]


The deleted comment above was along the lines of...

> [paraphrased] Anyone else having a problem with the link automatically being closed nearly instantaneously in a new tab? Clicking the link to open it in the same tab works fine.

This is weird, I'm having a similar problem on Chrome/OSX. Dragging the link to an empty spot next to other tabs works fine. I think that is a UI equivalent of copying the link and pasting it into a blank tab.

I suspect it's some JS on the page that examines the referrer.

Edit: AdBlockPlus was instantly closing the tab, presumably because the URL contained "ads.html"




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