Following other recent policy changes announced by major search and software companies in the industry, and as part of the same trend, Google is about to implement additional changes relating to hosting "unwanted software". In a letter sent to owners of AdWords advertising accounts, Google notified that around mid-December 2014, its policy requirements concerning software downloads, will change. In this regard, Google is planning to change the current software principles requirements which are part of the "Misrepresentation of self, product, or service" policy, and to replace it with the company's policy regarding "Unwanted Software".  

As a part of this change, AdWords advertisers with downloadable software hosted on their site or linked to from their site, will be required to comply with such Unwanted Software policy, whether or not these downloads are promoted through AdWords and regardless of the device on which the software is installed.   According to Google's policy, "unwanted software" is software characterized by one or more of the following:

  • It is deceptive, promising a value proposition that it does not meet.
  • It tries to trick users into installing it or to piggyback it on the installation of another program.
  • It does not inform the user about all of its principal and significant functions.
  • It affects the user’s system in unexpected ways.
  • It is difficult to remove.
  • It collects or transmits private information without the user’s knowledge.
  • It is bundled with other software and its presence is not disclosed.

Consequently, in order to comply with this policy, advertisers would need to ensure that any downloadable software hosted on their site, or linked from their site, meets the following standards:

  • Its installation process is transparent and includes upfront disclosures about what the software does, while giving the user control over the installation process;
  • The software is easy to uninstall or disable;
  • It behaves as expected once installed and allows the user continued control over updates and changes;
  • The software avoids the collection or transmission of personal information in an unclear or deceptive manner; and
  • It is only bundled with other software with authorization, and with other software which also complies with the Unwanted Software policy.

 Additional explanations regarding the aforementioned standards are detailed here.