On Android there’s a lot of advertisement. We are all used to apps that leave a little space for ads, but there are also other means for ad networks to perform their work with us: one way is creating link icons to advertised sites, but the one we’ll talk about is notifications, AKA push notifications.

Ad notifications

This technique is much less used than the classic one with small in-app banners, because it’s not well known and not well received, and, if done in a certain way, it can also be misleading. Few developers hence want to scare away their users, but those networks compensate this by promising good revenues.

Right now some of these networks are Airpush, LeadBolt, StartApp and Moolah.

To be correct, before shooting on this kind of advertising we’ll notice that actually a small notification every now and then (even when the app is not active) is not that invasive and in some ways it is even less than in app ads, especially on small displays. However this is true if the app warns about this ads system, and if these notifications aren’t too many, and if they’re clearly ads (“visit me” or “download me” like).

The real problem is that such notifications might be not clear at all. Just yesterday, after few days that I’ve installed an app, I happened to receive a notification about the need to upgrade the battery. What?! This notification did everything it could to look a system, official one with his “battery upgrade needed” message. Touching it opened a comparably devious web page which started the download of an app (Android always asks your permission to install an app).

Later, with a search on the internet, I’ve found that this app would just steal info from my device.

Solving the problem at the root

If this is the kind of ads that goes on such networks, I prefer to do without them. Luckily you can almost always find which apps use them. Developers themselves will hardly tell you it’s their app.

The first way is to check comments. If that’s the case, you’ll find a lot of one star comments complaining of malware or ads.

The other way, more “scientifically”, goes with the use of some apps you can find on Google Play. Two of these are AirPush Detector and Lookout Ad Network Detector. If the network is known, you’ll surely find the app (or apps) that use it, so you can decide if you want to keep it or uninstall.

Erm… but…. what are these push notifications?…

If anybody would like to ask but lacks the courage, push notifications are called this way because they refer to push technology. Substantially, it’s “push” anything that gets sent to us without request (but, it’s supposed, with our acknowledgment!), “pull” otherwise. Some notifications are called push because they’re sent from the ad network, of email server, etc…

Actually, for the end user, the fact that they are push is just a detail. They’re always notifications, but they should guarantee lower consumes.