Remember Airpush, the ad network that was widely considered one of the most intrusive, irritating methods of advertising in existence (so much so that Lookout released a special app to fight it off)? Well, it looks like the folks at SellARing (pronounced "sell a ring") have come up with something even more insidious.

SellARing's ad network essentially allows associated apps to replace the familiar "ring ring" sound you hear after dialing a number with a selection of 10-second audio ads.

The service lists NBC, Walmart, Vodafone, FOX, and others as among already-enlisted audio advertisers, and boasts a booked campaign calendar for May 2012, noting that they "have demand for more Android apps," while promising five-minute integration with a proprietary SDK.


As irritating, intrusive, and outrageous as this concept sounds, I can't help but wonder just how many developers will actually integrate it. If Airpush (or T-Mobile's ad-pushing antic) serves as any indication of users' feelings toward intrusive advertising, it seems that a network like SellARing, despite their sensational promises of wealth for developers (and their impressive arsenal of stock photography), would be poisonous to any apps associated with it.

That being said, it will be interesting to see where this concept leads. To read more about SellARing or to hear some of the planned audio ads, just take a look at their home page linked below.

Source: SellARing.com

Thanks, Aaron!

Liam Spradlin
Liam loves Android, design, user experience, and travel. He doesn't love ill-proportioned letter forms, advertisements made entirely of stock photography, and writing biographical snippets.

  • József Király

    This is simply ridiculous, and I bet it is against the law (you can't replace the dial tone AFAIK, well, in Hungary it is against the law). 

    • Elliott Hansen

       It's possible in the US, some of the carriers have an option to have a song of your choosing play for your dial tone. So when someone calls you they can hear whatever song you chose playing until you pick up or it goes to voicemail

    • iandouglas

      It doesn't replace the dial tone, it replaces the ringing audio tone that plays through the speaker that you hear while waiting for someone to answer their phone.

      • József Király

        That is the dial tone ;D Or dial-in tone, whatever. 

  • skitchbeatz

    I think we need a document somewhere that keeps track of which ads use Sell-a-ring so that we can actively avoid apps that do.

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

      I'd like to see at least one app that does it that's remotely useful or popular. The network is not that new, from what I can tell, it came out in 2011, and I've yet to see an app using it (thank god).

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Michael-Emaw-Kennedy/504157652 Michael Emaw Kennedy

        *Knocks on wood*

    • Elmo Clarity

      We need a list of advertisers that use it to boycott them until they pull their ads.  If there are not advertisers, this piece of crap malware will die on its own.

    • Zepplin76

      Although I am no developer by any means I went to the site and clicked developers at the top... says it WILL be opt out so if your users don't like it they can opt out and not degrade your app reputation...

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

    Whoever Patrick Tilly is in that picture, if he's real, he needs to be punched in the e-dick.

    • Simon Belmont

      That picture had me cracking up. It looks like he's about to do a Toyota jump for joy.

      I wonder if they just used a stock image for that. Haha.

  • Michaelcente1976

    thank the custom rom programmer gods, theyll find ways to get that crap out. thats why i always donate something to those programmers, cause of shit like this allowed by the carriers and their stupid money hungry tactics. go devs!!!! thanks for alll your hard work.

    • Hunny Bear

      Everyone who is able ought to do the same as this guy...donating to developers ensures we always have someone watching our backs diligently.

    • Zepplin76

      Says it ties to android alarm process.. roms can edit that can't they? I don't know but would think aosp or like said above "programmer gods ".....

  • http://profiles.google.com/dougxd Doug Ford

    I'll go back to a dumb flip-phone before I EVER allow an app install that contains this baggage.

  • http://twitter.com/PCSievers P.C. Sievers

    This stuff will never work on apps, I mean good luck being successful if you attach this to whatever app you are trying to sell cos you are just going to be hit full in the face with negative publicity and your idea is never unique enough that someone wont take advantage of your misstep.

    However for some reason I'd happily have this on my phone if I got a free Galaxy SIII or similar top of the line phone every 6-12 months. Which I'm pretty sure was some concept someone was throwing around ~6 months ago as a symbiotic method of monetising phone users but in a way that will have them sign up to be monetised as they are getting something out of it.

  • MrHanMan

    I don't see what the big deal is.  It's just another way for developers to get paid for "free" apps.  If you don't like this method of advertisement, don't install the app.  Calling it [Pure Evil] is quite a stretch.  Remember - nothing is free.

    BTW, I'd never install an app that included this either, but it's hardly worth getting one's panties in a twist over.

    • Bariman43

      Are you insinuating that we don't have the right to complain? The hell, man? Sticking an ad at the bottom of the app is the least intrusive, most widely accepted form of in-app advertising. When a company comes by to give app devs a way to make ads that are not only annoying but extremely intrusive, then that's a real problem.

      • MrHanMan

        I never said or suggested you don't have the right to complain.  The whole internet would shut down if that were the case.

    • Ckoadiyn

      The part that makes it evil is it stays installed

      • squiddy20

        Wrong. From the FAQ of their website:
        "Can a user opt out of sellAring ads?
        This depends on you, the App Developer. If sellAring is defined in the app as a mandatory component in your revenue model, a user can only opt out by uninstalling the app."
        Try looking for the correct answer first before mindlessly posting blatantly erroneous info that you *think* is the right answer.

        • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

          You're right, although the video wasn't very clear about this part. ("... runs even if Denise stops using your app")

          It's not surprising @23bdd0e35e46012db367cf99e4ca5113:disqus was confused. I initially thought the same as him too.

          • squiddy20

            Well then. I didn't watch the video so I had no idea there was any inconsistency. My bad.So now the real question is, which is right? The FAQ or the video?

          • http://profiles.google.com/marcusleejh Marcus Lee

            @squiddy20:disqus I think the FAQ is right. The phrasing in the video was probably just worded badly.

    • ScottColbert

      Or you know, devs can make an app worth paying for.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ZLOTEIADMVYKDQXQBWAO6P7XRQ Jim

      Problem is that many developers aren't exactly forthcoming about what ad services they use, so you may not know whether you should install any given app or not.

      I think people have grown to expect and accept the fact that ads will be displayed while using a free app.  Systems that break that model can affect the way people use their phone.  Air Push can clutter up the notification bar, making it a little harder to see the noifications that really matter.  And now this... many people I know set up custom ringtones for specific contacts so they can know who's calling without looking at their phones.  How will this go over with them?

      No, Pure Evil isn't that much of a stretch IMO.

      • duplissi

        the phone doesnt ring with the ad, the only time you would hear the ad is when you dial a number.

        however im sure someone on xda will find a way to remove this or block it just like airpush.

        • edtims

          "the only time" !every time i cal someone i have to lissen to a ad and if i hang up i get a screen to click away.
          So not only if i choose to use a app with ads in it but EVERY TIME i make a call. 

        • edtims

          "the only time" !every time i cal someone i have to lissen to a ad and if i hang up i get a screen to click away.
          So not only if i choose to use a app with ads in it but EVERY TIME i make a call. 

          • http://www.facebook.com/sean.lijek Sean Lijek

            Apparently it only plays ads twice a day. Still stupid though.

  • boonesimpson

    I can only see this working in 2 scenarios,
    1. A sellaring app version, and a full price version. Of course the app would have to be amazing for me to even think to use this.

    2. I wouldn't mind a version of sellaring, that I choose to install and I earn a revenue share based on my ad exposure. Basically if I can install this myself and earn 5 bucks a month, I might consider it.

    • iandouglas

      There are exactly zero apps that I could imagine making this a worthwhile scenario. And I've reviewed a LOT of apps (several for Android Police a few years back). I'm all for limited features or time-limited versions, or maybe in-app ads, but notifcation bar ads drew the line for me and I removed a few games that used the Zeemote bluetooth joystick that Android Police had a promotion for a month ago. But this ad network takes douchebaggery to Jedi level.

  • http://twitter.com/dynomike666 Mike

    @1:07 "...sellAring stays installed even if the person stops using your app..."  NOPE.  As Sievers said earlier, maybe if you got a free phone out of this but not under any normal business model would I accept this.

    • Fifth313ment

      Yeah, when the advertiser says, "...SellARing stays installed and runs even if Denise stops using your app. So you're still earning!..." I was just like WTF! I hate any app thats runs in the background without my permission using my precious memory! Like others and Mike has said if they were giving away a free phone, calling, or an expensive app would be the only way I could see anyone doing this. I mean imagine having to do this for a cheapy app like Words With Friends? I hope they get tons of bad press and are forced to stop this. If they are cutting into my call I could only imagine what issues would arrive and the data-mining that would be going on here. Someone should setup a petition to send this to the US congress. And this company is NEVER going allow YOU to make money on it lol boonesimpson! MrHanMan you must be smoking something if you can't see the possibility of scams and misuse here.


      • trumpet444

        "Boo hoo hoo. Send a letter to congress. Let mommy govt take care of my problems........"    Come on dude. This idea is so horrible it will die on its own. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/An-Vo/713904632 An Vo

    Holy crap this would piss me off. "...plays even after the user stops using your app..."
    On a side note:
    Anyone notice the HTC Touch HD phone used in this commercial? 

    • LiamSpradlin

      Though it's worded vaguely (to be honest the whole site is more than a little sleezy), I think this just means that its system of advertising doesn't rely on the app being open (as banner-based systems do).

  • Hunny Bear

    Personally, I'm not worried about seeing this in any app that I would want to download.

    However, if carriers started pre-installing bloatware that was integrated with SellARing...faces would surely need to be punched repeatedly. Of course even if they did that, rooting and installing a custom ROM (custom version of an Android version for those who aren't aware) would take care of it. Though I'd still be mad because there are plenty of people who will never root and customize.

  • Woopwoopbing

    One word, MALWARE... an app that installs as second system control app. when first app is removed the second app remains. pretty crap I think. 

  • username_already_exists_error

    if the carriers will implement this crap - i have yet another reason to always opt for a nexus phone

  • http://twitter.com/JirafaBo JirafaBo

    Or... pay me some money per ad, and I'll install it on my phone right now.  BUT... how much would it cost per ad for you to install?

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/7GU4N7CVDBJXMZOBFO3DMIQZH4 J

    1.) I could argue for the carriers to maybe look into picking this up....  If every time someone makes a call, they get a lil something....  Maybe our bills could go down some - or they might stop complaining about not having enough money to keep their network up against us data hogs...

    2.) If it goes main stream, I bet it wont be long until someone fixes an app that'll detect when the ad is playing & mute it & play the standard rings instead.

    **Is there already an app out like that?  Like to play jingle bells at Christmas, or a word of the call "This calls word is verbose, meaning containing more words than necessary" while I wait for the person I'm calling to answer,

    3.) How exactly does sellaring hang out on the phone after I've uninstalled its associated app?  Will it show up as a separate enity in my installed apps list?  Will I be able to delete it (maybe before I delete the app that brought it onto the phone)?  Is there special permissions needed?  Are other apps employing this?  Is the Facebook app going to keep yelling at me that I abandoned it for Google+?

    • David

      I haven't looked at it, but I think it works the same as Airpush etc. When you install an app with this in it, it will have an associated library that this works off. It will have a broadcast receiver so that whenever you make a call it is activated. This means that even if you aren't using the app that its in, it will still work and make the developer money. It doesn't mean that it stays on the phone after you uninstall the app, only that it still works when you aren't using the app. It sounds like you can opt out if the app developer lets you and still keep their app installed, or if they don't, you can remove it by uninstalling the app.

      I think there will be some developers who will use this, more so now that Android Police has raised its profile, probably ones with smaller numbers of users. Things like AdMob which give banner ads don't make the developer very much money, and they only have a chance of making any money while the app is in use. These more intrusive ad systems give much more money for the number of ads shown.

      A lot of people are reluctant to pay for an ad free version of an app, even one that they use a lot, so developers have to rely on ads if they want to make any money. When you have things like AdFree, where people are blocking these banner apps, people are effectively getting the ad free version of the app without paying for it. The developer then loses out of both someone buying the app and clicking ads, so its not surprising some go for these methods to try and improve the income from their app.

  • http://twitter.com/thijser Mathijs Vogelzang

    Unfortunately there are more and more ad networks with aggressive forms of advertising coming up. We noticed this trend too and try to help in two ways: for users we have the "AppBrain Ad Detector" app that detects which apps have those ad networks (and also optionally warns you immediately when you install a new one!) and for developers we have the "AppLift" ad network which provides good monetization while keeping apps user friendly.

    This will only work though if developers that add an aggressive network actually see negative effects of it. To me it seems the number of users that's aware of these ads and that immediately uninstalls an app when it has such an ad network is still relatively low.

  • http://gameluv.com/ Shawn S

    They all lose in my case, I take and make about 2 calls in 2 week's time. They'd have to start phantom dialing me to force their ads to play which... wait... I hope I didn't just put that idea out there for them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000308704523 Andrew Leatherbarrow

    I'd just flat out refuse to install any app that had this, regardless of how amazing the app was. It's actually quite shocking to me that we've come to the point where this is even being considered, let alone implemented.

  • CeluGeek

    Didn't Google file a patent for this kind of thing?

  • Karim

    This is disgusting. Perhaps the good folks at Android Police could set up a poll / open letter enlisting people to pledge they would uninstall any apps associated with sellaring?

  • http://twitter.com/sellAring sellAring


    I'm Yang from SellAring. We've been reading many things that people are writing about our platform over the last few hours, and we'd like an opportunity to respond.

    Like our app developers, we cater to end-users. In the end, we believe it is up to the user to decide if he or she find the ads agreeable and a reasonable form of "payment" for the app they've downloaded. Our ads receive a high response rate from end-users which is how our app developers earn high eCPMs.

    We'd like to clarify a few points:

    1. We cap the number of ads served to up to 2 ads per day.
    2. We target those ads, verifying users receive only relevant ads.
    3. We play ads only during the call setup time (we replace the unused ring back tone time in which a user waits for his/her call to be answered), and in any case we don’t slow the connection or cause any delay in the call connection (not even by a nano-second).
    4. Users can opt-out from our service by uninstalling the sellAring-enabled app (e.g. we do not stay on the device once the user removes the app). In addition we offer a direct approach to the user who can send us an opt-out request directly.
    5. We never play ads when emergency calls are made.

    It's important to emphasize, we are an Android ad network and there are app developers among us as well. The integrity of our ideas and our actions is crucial as we advance SellAring's platform.  Our intention is to develop a service through which app developers can make a real, stable income.  True, not all app developers look to monetize, still there is a large segment of developers who utilize their apps as a secondary or main income and we cater to them.

    All advertising is "intrusive" to some degree but there's no getting away from the fact that users want ad-subsidized apps. Audio ads have been around for years and are a proven medium. When we looked at applying audio ads to mobile we took care to limit the broadcast of ads to just 2 per day per user. We also took to provide user opt-out and to ensure that the ad was immediately cut on call-answer.
    Thanks for the opportunity. You can also reach us at team at sellaring.com

    • ceejw

      You guys don't seem to think sellaring will cause a huge amount of consumer backlash.  It will and here's why: most people are not going to know whey they are hearing these ads and assume it is either a virus, or something verizon/AT&T etc. added to phone calls.  My mom is going to call verizon and yell at them for putting ads on her phone. This is of course assuming she doesn't call me first and tell me there is a virus on her phone and since I was the last one to mess with it, it's obviously my fault.  This is not going to make me happy and the wireless carriers getting calls accusing them of adding ads to phone calls sure isn't going to make them happy.  

      Prediction: google and the carriers will ban apps from the play store that have sellaring implemented in the near future.

    • Rovex

      However good your intentions and however lite it may seem to be its a step too far.
      No app that uses this will stay on my phone, its intrusive and may be very inappropriate depending on the call being made. Its not just about emergency calls.
      This will simply encourage the apps that use it to be hacked and pirated, or a way will be found to disable sellAring.

    • Asur

      I see three lies in this post. This is against your own information.

      #1: In the video demo, at 1:07, it specifically states that Sellaring status active even if the host app is uninstalled.

      #2: Your website says the only opt-out without uninstalling the app is only available if the developer chooses to include it.

      #3: Your website states that your malware will never cut an ad short, and that it will always play for the full 10s.

      Trying to play users for suckers only convinces us you are dishonest scumbags. Your "software" simply screams "malware".


    • Troy Barnhardt

      I think your biggest problem is going to be the playing of ads outside of the app.  I love the whole ad-supported app idea and will happily look at 100 banner ads while I'm using an app. You can put ads between the levels in a game, put banners all over the screen, whatever, it's worth the free app most of the time.  However, once I close the app, if it still keeps pushing ads, it's gone.  You're taking control of a user's phone away from them, and making it so that they can't just close the app to make the ads go away.  That's why people hate AirPush so much.

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

        To make matters worse, SellARing makes it a point to specify (as a positive) that even if users uninstall the app that introduced SellARing, users will continue receiving SellARing ads. That's the lowest and shadiest bullshit I've seen an ad company do yet.

    • iandouglas

      So not only have you found the most intrusive way to send us an ad, you're doing some level of behavioral/geo targeting as well? What *exactly* are you scanning on our phone to determine which ad to make us listen to?

  • Randymalkoski

    Another concern with this type of invasive (and bewildering for some average users) advertising is the possibility of hurting the credibility and general perception of Android itself.

    Maybe a stretch, but I can imagine the following scenario: Average smartphone buyers saying "I don't want to get one of those Android phones, they have those annoying/weird ads wherever I make a call. I'm going to get an iPhone/blackberry/windows phone (etc...)."

    As some posters pointed out, a lot of average users won't know that the ad is attached to a specific app, which can easily be uninstalled fit business as usual. To take things further, they might think that it's post of the Android experience itself.

    Something that Google might want to think about in their Play Store developer Terms of Use...

  • iandouglas

    I pity any VC who backed this business. Die in fire.

  • awesome keith

    The audio transcription calls them Celery.
    I would gladly listen to ad if they paid me for
    Thats the model someone needs to roll out.
    For now I'd try it just to click the Request advertiser call me. Then tell them directly that im boycotting their product for supporting such intrusive advertising techniques.

  • jason

    They suck i tested them on an app and it only made $5 compared to the same app with airpush in it as well which made $2,500 for the month. Sell-a-ring got the boot, and yes they are annoying as hell airpush ads dont bother me, since you just hit clear button and off they go.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sean.lijek Sean Lijek

    Not nearly as bad as AirPush though, since those messages can actually confuse people.