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Mobile Monday: Starbucks Joins the Mobile Gaming World, Google Delists Hundreds of Apps for Disruptive Ads

Posted Mar 15, 2020

While some brands are just now warming up to advertising in mobile games, others are creating their own titles altogether. Numbers continue to grow for people playing games on their smartphones and branded game apps are just another effective way of targeting consumers.  Starbucks has launched their own mobile game that will allow consumers to catch stars for free coffee, pastries, and other prizes. Meanwhile, Google is cracking down on disruptive ads and has delisted over 500 apps from the Play Store. Learn more about these news stories in this week’s Mobile Monday.

Starbucks Introduces Their Augmented Reality Mobile Game
Starbucks has entered the mobile gaming landscape by launching Starland, their first augmented reality game. Modeled after the widely popular Pokemon Go, the app will allow users to hunt and collect stars for prizes in addition to the rewards program on the company’s current app. The coffee chain says they will be giving away 2.5 million prizes including free coffee, breakfast items, and bonus stars. For now, the app is only available in the United States and Canada.

When the game is opened, players will see floating stars in their surroundings even if they are not in a Starbucks store. As users move their phones, stars may change positions. Users can then catch the stars in hopes of getting instant prizes or a raffle ticket to win a grand prize. Starland is sure to get fans excited but it is important to note that there are limitations set on the game. Users can only play Starland twice per day. After you collect enough stars in a 24 hour period, the game ends and you get a countdown timer to the next day’s opening to play again.

Google Delists Over 500 Apps for Featuring Disruptive Ads
According to new research from Pixalate, a total of 564 apps that had approximately 3 billion downloads were delisted from the Google Play Store for containing disruptive ads. Google defines disruptive ads as those that are “are displayed to users in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions. While they can occur in-app, one form of disruptive ads we’ve seen on the rise is something we call out-of-context ads, which is when malicious developers serve ads on a mobile device when the user is not actually active in their app.”

Pixalate’s data showed that the top ten most popular apps delisted came from developers linked to Cheetah Mobile, all of which had more than 100 million downloads. Just4Fun was another major app developer mentioned which had 117 million downloads. Out of the 564 apps removed, 247 of these had “no country listed” while Poland ranked second (68) and the United Kingdom (46) was third for the number of apps delisted. The crackdown on disruptive advertising and fraud is an issue that the entire mobile industry must reckon with. Apps and advertising companies alike should be doing what they can to protect their partners by following prevention guidelines and receiving certifications to increase transparency.

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Mobile Monday examines the latest news, trends, and developments in mobile apps, tech, and advertising. Do you have a story to share for the next Mobile Monday?   

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