Google Removed Billions of Bad Ads in 2018

August 1, 2019
Samantha Brachat

While an improvement from 2017, Google still found itself needing to crack down hard on bad ads and malicious advertising accounts in 2018.

A Major Purge

Being one of the primary players in the digital realm, Google has perhaps one of – if not the most -essential responsibilities towards enabling a safer advertising and informational ecosystem. To that end, the search giant recently released its annual report in regards to the actions it took to deal with policy violations on its advertising network.

The company removed over 2 billion “bad ads” in 2018, which hovers close to a million less ads than what was removed in the year prior, although that statistic is eclipsed by the fact that nearly double the amount of advertising accounts (roughly one million) were removed compared to last year.

“We took down 2.3 billion bad ads in 2018 for violations of both new and existing policies, including nearly 207,000 ads for ticket resellers, over 531,000 ads for bail bonds and approximately 58.8 million phishing ads. Overall, that’s more than six million bad ads, every day,”

said Scott Spencer, Google’s Director of Sustainable Ads.

Key Sectors Cleaned

As for which industries experienced the highest amount of ad violations beyond the ones mentioned above, the list also extends to third-party tech support, cryptocurrencies, and several local services such as addiction-treatment centers and housing repairs.

In terms of the guilty players themselves, roughly 734,000 advertisers and app developers were blacklisted from Google’s network, with nearly 1.5 million apps in total having their advertising abilities removed completely.

Unsurprisingly, “fake news” and misinformation was another extremely dense area that Google needed to vet thoroughly this year. Around 1.2 million web pages, 15,000 websites, and 22,000 apps had advertisements removed for violating policies around misrepresentative, hateful, or low-quality content. In addition to this, Google also unveiled an election ad policy in the United Sates leading up to the midterm elections last year, creating a political ads transparency report with the goal of having more transparency so that users could identify who was purchasing election ads. This policy led to the identification of almost 150,000 election ads.

Technological Advancements

It has been a busy past few years for Google, as the company continues to try and address growing challenges of malicious ads in its growing sphere of influence.

In 2017, new technology was implemented that allowed Google to better safeguard advertisers operating legitimately by taking down ads from websites that were flagged to be in violation of their policies. That led to 2 million pages to be removed from its index every month. They also rolled out a new ad-blocker Chrome extension to counter ads that were deemed to be too intrusive to the user experience.

These advancements continued last year, with 330 detection classifiers – close to triple the amount they launched in 2017 - to better identify the bad ads at the page level. These classifiers led to the removal of ads from 28 million pages last year.

Advertiser Vigilance

While the above report is good news for those who continue to operate legitimately, the rise in accounts acting maliciously is still frustrating to have to contend with. The more bad ads that exist, the higher the likelihood that it could negatively impact cost per actions, campaign performance, and brand integrity.

There’s no greater time than now to review where your digital ads are placing, and to assess how the medium’s perception is with your target audience in terms of advertising sentiment. For example, it has been a particularly rough past couple of years for YouTube and Facebook in the public eye, despite both platforms developing new mechanisms for policy enforcement.

If you’re active on Google’s ad platform, make sure to familiarize yourself with its growing list of ad policies. This list is updated and changed often, so developing a cadence of reviewing it multiple times throughout the year would be in your best interest.

Other than that, continue to take a white-hat approach to your marketing efforts. There’s a difference between taking advantage of an opportunity and exploiting a vulnerability in a harmful manner. If you’re operating in a grey area, understand that the risk of having your ads pulled and your account banned is not even remotely worth gambling on.

Have any questions about digital advertising standards? Our performance marketing team is here to help! Feel free to reach out to us with any questions you may have.

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