Lookout Aims to Rein In Mobile Advertisers' Bad Behavior
Mobile device management company Lookout starts warning when apps use advertising networks known for questionable practices.
Many mobile-application developers rely on advertising to offer their apps for free yet still turn a profit. However, a lack of rules on what constitutes good behavior in advertising on mobile devices has allowed many advertising platforms to adopt aggressive practices. On June 26, mobile-device management firm Lookout announced it would warn users of installed programs that used aggressive advertising platforms, such as taking personal data without the user's knowledge or causing pop-up advertisements outside of the developer's application. The current landscape resembles the Wild West, without many standards of good behavior, Jeremy Linden, security product manager at Lookout, told eWEEK. "It is important for people to have trust in their applications and trust in their mobile advertising networks," Linden said. "We think they should have to respect the social contracts." Nearly half of all mobile applications use advertising networks to generate revenue, according to Lookout. While adware continues to be uncommon, about 1.6 percent of Android users have adware installed, according to the company's data. Overall, about 6.5 percent of applications on Google Play use advertising networks whose practices do not follow Lookout’s guidelines.
In May, Lookout contacted advertising networks and served notice that in 45 days it would start flagging any application that used an aggressive ad network as "adware." Some networks responded, and the company is currently in talks with those firms about proper codes of conduct. Yet, as of June 18, five networks had not responded at all, and Lookout will begin to flag them as adware and offer users advice on how to uninstall the programs.