I’m normally not one to rant. Well, let me re-phrase that – for the sake of honesty and because my daughter reads my blog posts and will dime me out in a heartbeat – I am normally not one to rant ONLINE, where it can be documented for all posterity. However, robots have been shoveling crud into my phone and I have had it. Okay, maybe its not literal lumps of dung, but pretty darn close. Mobile push ads. The scourge of the mobile advertising universe. Even Apple thinks they go too far…and that is saying something when Apple won’t run after an extra dime.
For the uninitiated, push ads are annoying bits of advertising that show up mysteriously as start screen icons or unwanted notifications, usually without warning, almost always without permission. Android owners are often bewildered when these start showing up, until they finally do the math and notice the uncanny timing: Like clockwork after downloading “free” software, though not even paid apps owners are 100% immune to the perils of push advertising.
Though the push ad phenomenon is not solely an Android problem, it is far more of an issue for Android than for iPhone because of Google’s rather lax policy enforcement and less restrictive practices on its Play Store.
Back in July, an Airpush representative was quoted by CNN, saying that the company plans to move within the next two weeks to “an affirmative opt-in” system for its push notification ads. Guess what? Not only has there been no evidence of any sort of “opt-in”, their “opt-out” options don’t work either. Case in point, I have had to download and run the “one time only” application provided by AirPush (the worst of the worst) every two days this week…and I am still getting two to three push ads per day. Just in case you think I am some sort of a cyber-masochist, I have done this for you, dear readers. I really wanted to see if AirPush had honored their word. I can report back with a resounding “No Way, Jose”.
Exacerbating the problem is the fact that app creators do not usually let you know which ad network they use, if they even tell you that they use one at all. In my experience, not a single app maker has disclosed that information. If they did, it was not even a little bit obvious. At this point, your best option, and it is a pretty poor one, is to avoid the worst offenders (Airpush is chief), read app reviews, looking specifically for push ad complaints and then simply do not download those apps.
Personally, I find it incredibly offensive to think that app makers and ad pushers (how appropriate!) can access my personal information, address book, photos, etc. without my consent, without my knowledge. The mobile marketing industry will continue to exploit this lucrative income stream, at the expense of the consumer, unless mobile device users protest, loudly. In case you are not yet ready to sound your #smrebels yell, here is the link to the opt-out page for Airpush. Hopefully, it will do you more good than it has done me: http://www.airpush.com/optout