Today, Lookout, a mobile security company, released a new Android application that can help figure out just where those pesky notification ads are suddenly coming from and offer you ways to opt out of them or get rid of the culprits altogether.

Their creation, called Push Ad Detector, currently detects apps that use the following ad networks:

  • Airpush
  • Appenda
  • LeadBolt
  • Moolah Media
  • Startapp
  • TapIt!

There are other detectors of notification ads on the Market, but none are as comprehensive and polished as Push Ad Detector. No surprises there - Lookout is known for quality of its software.

Once you perform a scan, you will see a list of installed applications that include support for ad networks mentioned above as well as ways to either opt out of those networks permanently (presumably based on device ID), get more information, or just uninstall the offenders altogether.

image image image

Alternatively, if you don't have any apps that can push notification ads installed (good job if this is you), you will see this:

wm_SC20120203-152122 wm_SC20120203-152128

So, next time you download a bunch of stuff from the Market and get a rogue notification ad, don't freak out - download Push Ad Detector instead.

Push Ad Detector scans your device for the ad networks that can push ads to the Android notification bar, push ad-enabled search icons to your mobile desktop, or push settings modifications to the mobile browser. These ad networks are integrated into apps you may have downloaded. Push Ad Detector will show you which apps on your phone have integrated the most aggressive ad networks.

We've heard directly from our users that push ads can be frustrating and annoying. These ad networks are integrated into apps, but because the ads are displayed outside an app, it's very difficult to find out exactly which app is enabling these ads. We've designed Push Ad Detector so users can make informed decisions about what apps and ad networks to keep on their phones.

Push Ad Detector also shows users exactly what personal data is being collected by these ad networks, and if it is being done so securely.

At this time, Push Ad Detector does not detect the presence of all mobile ad networks. The six ad networks that are detected use the most aggressive push ad techniques.

Ad Networks Detected

• Airpush
• Appenda
• LeadBolt
• Moolah Media
• Startapp
• TapIt!

Ad Network Detection

Push Ad Detector identifies if any of these aggressive ad networks are integrated into an app. It does not determine whether the app is actively using the push advertising techniques available to it. For example, an app developer may integrate a network into an app without actually pushing ad-enabled icons to the mobile desktop. In these cases, Push Ad Detector will still report the presence of the ad network.

Ad Network Capabilities & Privacy

Lookout Labs has investigated the capabilities and personal information collection methods specific to each ad network. Personal data is gathered so advertisers can show you relevant ads and track results of ad campaigns. There are a number of best practices for secure data collection, such as using hashing to obfuscate data. Push Ad Detector will show you exactly what personal information is collected, and if it is collected securely.


When possible, Push Ad Detector shows a link to opt out of an ad network. When you tap on this link, you will be directed to the ad network's public opt-out path, which may be a webpage or a mobile app. When an opt-out path is not publicly available, the only way to eliminate a network's ads is to uninstall the application. Note: Push Ad Detector does not track the status of your opt-out request, so the opt-out link will still be shown for all detected instances of an ad network.

App Removal

This application does not remove individual applications or ads from your device. When an app is detected that has an agressive ad network, Push Ad Detector provides a shortcut to the Application Details page. On this page, tap "uninstall" to remove the app manually.

Artem Russakovskii
Artem is a die-hard Android fan, passionate tech blogger, obsessive-compulsive editor, bug hunting programmer, and the founder of Android Police.
Most of the time, you will find Artem either hacking away at code or thinking of the next 15 blog posts.

  • hyperbolic

    How good is the algorithm, I wonder.

  • Matt

    Freaking awesome. This was very much needed. I lost so much time once trying to figure out which app had these ads.

  • Cool Story Bro

    I've identified that leadbolt is pushing ads to my notification bar, but none of the apps that scan for it are finding which one it is. The opt out is B. S. Because it requires information I should not have to use to opt out. These sneaky methods should be eliminated from Android. It's leaving me red in the face and souring me to my favorite platform. Why won't they just identify themselves as using it?

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I recommend you report this to Lookout - I'm sure they'd love to tweak their algorithm to detect it right. What app is it anyway?

    • http://www.mylookout.com Derek

      Full disclosure: I work at Lookout

      Personally I agree that collection of IMEI is a bit disconcerting, but to be perfectly honest, it's the most commonly gathered unique identifier for serving ads. As we describe in Push Ad Detector, some networks forward-hash the IMEI, others send it in the clear. Either way, this is the way that you're identified by an ad network. In order to disable ads for ALL apps that integrate a given ad network, that unique identifier is needed for reference.

      • Circs

        Hey, you guys and gals at Lookout are hardcore. Quick question, any plans to make a centrally managed solution so I could manage all my clients' Android AV's centrally? I can't trust my users to comply and most Android management solutions are a PITA.

  • behelit

    Boo.. there's goes my ad revenue.
    If banner ads actually generated revenue then developers wouldn't need to employ methods like push ads.
    Most people don't realize that with banner ads, users actually have to click them for developers to get anything. Just displaying an ad (impression) doesn't generate ANY revenue and is only likely to get some clicks if you have a massive user base and even then it's something like 0.001 cents per click.

    • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

      I appreciate that you need to make money, but ads like that are universally hated. If I had to draw a parallel to desktops, I'd say this is as annoying as or even worse than popups when you don't expect them, ads that start talking to you by themselves, browser infections (via BHO). Ads like Airpush pop up unexpectedly, and a lot of times you don't even know where the heck they came from.

      • Brill Pappin

        It's actually short sighted. I would much rather have a notification show up once a day than waste screen area on a banner.

        • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

          The problem is not notifications during your interaction with the app, it's notifications that pop up at random times, intentionally misleading and confusing. Short sighted? That's just like your opinion, man.

          • Brill Pappin

            Nice nasty attack on a reasonably articulate, opinion comment. Ass.
            Try being constructive instead, so we can actually have a discussion here.

            IMO It's short sighted because there are many times when a banner can't be or shouldn't be used, and once the rules changed to require it, I never saw a notification ad that didn't identify what app it came from.
            Personally I hate banners more than those notification ads specifically because they take up screen space.

          • http://www.androidpolice.com/ Artem Russakovskii

            Nasty attack? Lolwut?

            You're commenting on a 2-year-old thread anyway, this discussion and topic are long dead.

    • met2art

      Cool story, bro. Write an app worth paying for and people will pay for it. Give a taste with a non-ad supported "lite" version.

      I'm not against devs making money, but too many half-assed devs are trying to wring money out of people via shady ad companies. It makes everyone unhappy.

      • Brill Pappin

        Actually, no they won't.
        People do not want to pay for apps.

        • Scotty Harris

          Your an absolute, total moron. I purchase apps often and for good reason. Your asinine comment stating that people do not want to pay, is presumptuous. Dumbass.

          • Brill Pappin

            Scotty, who starts a post by calling someone a "total moron" and a "dumdass"without knowing a thing about them, except maybe a troll?

            You want to know how I know that what i've said is true?
            Because I make a living in the industry and have actual data to back it up, over a number of apps.
            Most users would rather see an ad than pay for an app, and my numbers are not unique among my peers. Ads have a much better return than sales do, in *all* cases. We know because we talk amongst ourselves and have tried many different models.

            App sales are a non-starter, they simply don't make enough to maintain complex software. You will start seeing more and more apps use subscription models rather than pay-once models, like it or not.

            Who's the "dumbass" now asshole?
            What a hoser.

  • pax

    I hate these companies...Leaches

  • slipshft

    I used this when LeadBolt started pushing stuff to my tablet. It identified which offending app had started pushing ads. I was dismayed to find that an update to the app in question was what started the push. So, now I have removed that app.


  • http://www.AndroidPolice.com Artem Russakovskii

    The app was updated today and is now Lookout Ad Network Detector, with a ton more ad networks supported (not just notification spam).

  • Melissarjohns

    Can this app be downloaded on to a kindle fire?

  • Silent Revolt

    You can stick your unwanted and unsolicited ads up your ass! I really don't care whether you make money or not! If I want to buy something I'll look for it on my own. Your dumb-ass ads won't entice me into buying your fuc**ng product. It only aggravates me!!!!!