Ads, ads everywhere… it must be Android.

As a refugee from Nokia’s Symbian OS I’m mostly thrilled with all the eye-candy that Android has to offer — except for the ads.

Maybe it’s a cultural (United States?) thing, but I generally find Internet advertising to be quite invasive. I run ad blocking extensions on both Firefox & Google Chrome and, as you may have noticed, there are no ads on this site.

I’m currently testing a system-wide ad blocker for Android that shows a lot of promise — it basically works by blocking a data connection to user-specified apps. There’s another free solution for non-rooted handsets here.

While I busy myself with that, kindly permit me to present my personal Android advert hall of shame. Click any of the screen grabs below to witness them in their hi-res hideous glory…

I suppose I can endure the blight of advertising for a free game, at least if it’s a good one. A lot of work undoubtedly goes into making them, and I’m not sure my finger-eye coordination (or lack thereof) could be monetized any other way.

The talented folks behind Bonsai Blast do ads right — you only see them on game menus and in between levels. And a good thing, that… they’re huge.

Rovio goes a step further and dumps ads on the actual gameplay screens of their cult hit Angry Birds. They disappear after a few seconds, but I’d rather have the ability to dismiss them myself.

Moving beyond games, AppBrain loads ads onto the main menu of their offering. I find this a bit greedy, as they already know pretty much everything I’ve installed on my handset and also who my Android-using friends are. Surely they could translate that into the cash they need?

Ok, ads in a file browser? This is getting ridiculous…

There is of course a “pro version” of the ASTRO File Manager, but instead of copying Apple and keeping things simple Google should be including a file manager on Android handsets by default.

I invite all Android users reading this to post their least favourite/most intrusive ads they’ve had to endure in the comments below. And a bonus question: Does anyone ever click on these things?


  1. I have one of the most unpopular opinions about online advertising that I know. I both enjoy and support online advertising. My only requirement is that the advertisers are fair and safe, as I’ve often found is the case with Google ads. Google’s online advertising is in fact the biggest money maker for Google and is what allows them to make all this great free stuff. They also often gear the advertising towards the user, and I’d rather see a bunch of advertising about subjects that interest me and might do me some good over advertisements for things that have nothing to do with my interests.

    I have to admit that I have not only put Google ads on my sites, but I’ve even clicked on Google ads on other peoples sites. I don’t consider myself a chump by any means, and it’s not like clicking costs me anything, instead it often gives a small donation to some of the sites that I frequent. Sure sometimes it’s a bit of a pain to use content that has little ads popping up, but often (and always with Google as far as I know) these ads can be closed down with no interruption to the content.

    I guess my question for you Andrew is one we’ve debated about often:

    What do you have against people making money on the internet?

  2. Nothing at all, they’re welcome to try. But if I myself don’t care for ads and find a way to circumvent them, shouldn’t I be able to?

    Just like the Mozilla Foundation (better citation needed; what follows was overhead on a TV interview), I feel very strongly that it’s the user who should be in control of their experience on the web — or anywhere else, for that matter.

    I highly recommend that you read this book, and afterwards tell me if you don’t agree.

  3. “Sorry, ads within an app? That’s a bit much. Let’s hope that dies soon.”

    You have to keep in mind that not everyone is able to buy apps on the android market. I think some countries are still unable to access paid apps, and even in countries where this is possible some people like me don’t have a payment card that works with Google Checkout…

    So untill I can pay apps with paypal I have to use adware apps, so I sure hope they don’t die anytime soon.

    I sometimes click ads that might interest me on a website because I know it’s the only way it can make money, but I’ve never clicked an ad on android… With a small screen and a slowish connection it would take to much time just to display an ad…

  4. To add to what BlueScreenJunky wrote, some of us live in a part of the world where there is NO form of online payment for the normal Joe Day.

    The only option is to use ad supported apps. I for one, am a supporter of ads. Honestly, without ads, most of the most powerful apps we take for granted will cease to exist within a short time. *Firefox I’m looking at you*

  5. Hearing you all loud and clear on the lack of paid apps in international markets — please excuse my momentary lapse into North America-centric myopia.

    I guess as a Linux (and hell, even Symbian) user I have to wrap my head around paying for software again.

    I have bought one app so far, the very excellent Twidroyd Pro. But somehow I’ve a feeling that Ad Blocker might be the next purchase for this wallet-based activist. 😎

  6. Seriously? If you don’t want ads, go ahead and buy the ad free version. At least two of the above apps have ad-free paid versions. And Angry Birds will follow suit soon. It’s not like iOS free apps are much better anyway.

    Weak article bro.

  7. I’ll gladly pay for software that I think is worth the money; but using ASTRO as an example, there is zero added value for me in removing ads that I would have never clicked on in the first place.

    So until I find a better, free alternative (I’m sure they’re out there) I’ll likely direct that money to the good folks at Ad Blocker, instead.

    In other words, I’ll vote with my wallet.

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