Is it possible to limit searches within the Google Play Store to apps (gratis or paid) that do not contain ads?
If it's not possible within the Google Play store, is there another effective way to accomplish this?
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There's the Playsearch website which allows you that without having to install anything beforehand:
In addition to what you asked for, you even can specify how long ago the last update should be at maximum, what size the app should have, what Android version it should support, how well it ranks (stars) – and how wide-spread (number of installs) it should at least be.
Aurora Store is an alternate ( FOSS client) to Google's Play Store, with an elegant design, using Aurora you can download apps, update existing apps, search for apps, get details about in-app trackers and much more.
Select the filter and tap apply, your search results will match your criteria.
Disclaimer I am not affiliated with Aurora, but I use it as a replacement to Google play store client
With App Finder, you can filter for apps without ads (and many other criteria). Also, in the result list it is indicated for each app if it contains ads.
It has 2,380,000 apps indexed currently, much more than playsearch.kaki87.net and reallyfreeapps.com. Also, there are more filters available, and more information is shown in the result list.
Available from Google Play here.
Disclosure: I am from Skyica LLC, the developer of App Finder
I developed an app (and web) called reallyfreeapps for Android to look at apps and games with no ads and no IAP. You can take a look at https://reallyfreeapps.com