Free apps usually rely on ads or in-app purchases to earn money, or sometimes even both. However it seems that recently it has been discovered that some app developers have been rather cunning by incorporating invisible ads. Now these ads aren’t so much for your viewing pleasure, but as a means to trick advertisers into paying for them.
While you think that this might not concern you, it does because it has also been found that these ads not only affects your smartphone’s performance, but at the same time could drain your battery unnecessarily and also eat into your data plan without you knowing, according to a recent report from Forensiq (via Bloomberg).
The study observed these ads over a 10-day period and identified that at least 1% of all devices in the US contained at least one app that committed this kind of fraud, while over in the US and Asia, those numbers were slightly higher at 2-3%. This has reportedly cost advertisers a whopping $850 million a year in ad spending that are related to ads that basically never reaches any consumer.
In terms of performance, users are reporting that these apps with invisible ads are prone to crashing and slowness. Unfortunately this isn’t really something that Apple or Google can do much about. While they do screen apps to ensure it adheres to the guidelines, they’d basically have to keep monitoring its bandwidth usage over time to determine if the app might have incorporated invisible apps, something that isn’t very efficient/feasible.
In any case this is something worth taking note of, so the next time you run into a free app that seems to crash or run sluggishly for no reason, perhaps it might have invisible ads in the background.