Google wiped almost 600 apps from its Play Store for displaying adverts it judged to be obstructing user experience, and pledged to invest in new technologies to detect mobile ad fraud.

Per Bjorke, senior product manager responsible for ad traffic quality at Google, announced in a blog the move was completed using a recently-developed machine-learning based approach.

The technology was used to detect ads in apps which appeared on users’ devices “in unexpected ways, including impairing or interfering with the usability of device functions”.

Bjorke explained another form of disruptive ads the company aimed to combat were those displaying on the device even when the user was not actively using an app, noting these resulted in poor user experiences and could “lead to unintentional ad clicks that waste advertiser spend”.

This is not the first time the company moved to clean up adverts in Play Store apps. In April 2019 Google eliminated 46 of 100 apps created by Chinese developer Do Global, followed by a wipe of more than 60 from China-based CooTek a few months later.

In August 2019 Google declared war on abusive apps, launching a programme rewarding developers which report apps that violate its data policies.

And in Q4 2019, the company turned to security companies ESET, Lookout and Zimperium for help in detecting harmful apps before they are released.