May 27, 2024

Google has paused the feature offered to businesses using Rich Communication Services (RCS) to deliver ads in India through its Messages app — as a result of an uproar among users for getting spam. Although RCS is meant as an upgrade over the existing short messaging service (SMS) by offering rich media and interactivity, a list of businesses in the country were found to be abusing the new messaging experience by starting to give a large number of ads to users.

In a statement to Gadgets 360, a Google spokesperson said that the company decided to disable the feature allowing businesses to show ads through RCS on Google Messages as a result of violating its policies.

“We are aware that some businesses are abusing our anti-spam policies to send promotional messages to users in India,” the spokesperson said, adding, “We are disabling this feature in India while we work with the industry to improve the experience for users.”

Google has stopped ads from being circulated through RCS messaging since the past week as a result of the update. However, there is no clarity on how long the ongoing restriction will be in place for businesses as it seems to be a temporary measure responding to user complaints and to make systems more robust to limit instances of ad abuses in the future.

The issue with growing ads on Google Messages in India came into limelight earlier this month.

Affected users had taken to Twitter and other social media platforms to report issues with the increasing number of ads on Google Messages over the past few months. As brought into notice by Ishan Agarwal, the promotional content was annoying users especially due to the fact that it was coming on the app that comes pre-installed and is default on most Android phones nowadays.

Some users even completely disabled the RCS experience on Google Messages to get rid of pesky ads.

A large part of the promotional content included personal loan ads that were pushed by banks and financial institutions including Kotak Mahindra Bank and Bajaj Finserv. Some of the ads were, however, shown by small loan apps.

The ads appearing on the Google Messages app were coming from ‘Verified Business’ accounts. The content could, therefore, be considered as a regular communication by some users.

It is important to note that while businesses are no longer able to show ads on Google Messages, business customers can still use RCS to communicate with their customers on the app.