Google took down 1.7 billion bad adverts in 2016. That’s more than twice the number it eliminated in 2015.
The update comes as part of the Google 2016 Bad Ads Report, but whilst the company’s efforts in tackling the issue are commendable it highlights the growth of bad advertising.
Despite efforts to expand its policies to protect from misleading offers and disable fraudulent ads, it appears the issue will require more widespread industry participation to tackle.
Google’s achievements over the year include the removal of five million payday loan ads as well as disabling 12 million ads that “trick for click”.
The company says that common bad online ads are promoting illegal activities. For example, it deleted over 68 million ads for healthcare violations and 17 million for illegal gambling violations.
Some ads can also be misleading in the messages they deliver. That’s why Google eliminated 80 million bad ads for misleading or deceiving users. Another seven million had to be taken down for trying to trick the Google detection system.
However, as technology advances tricksters are trying to invent new ways to cheat the system. One such trick is called “tabloid cloaking”, which lets an account try and pretend to be news. 1,300 accounts have been suspended as part of a sweep on the attempt.
Scott Spencer, Director of product management, Sustainable Ads, a company that fights ad scams, told The Drum:
“When we find ads that violate our policies, we’ll block the ad and sometimes the advertiser, depending on the violation. But sometimes we also need to suspend the website promoted in the ad the site users see after they click on it. So, for example, while we disabled more than 5 million payday loan ads last year, we also took action on 8,000 sites promoting payday loans.”
The advertising industry is growing ever more concerned as they race to keep the web free from ad blockers. It’s now perhaps more important to identify ads that are in breach of standards and ensure that ad content is high quality. However, this doesn’t just involved advertisers. Marketers, publishers, agencies, app and tech developers alike will need to unify and be held accountable for their actions in ensuring advertising safety.
“While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here. As we invest in better detection, the scammers invest in more elaborate attempts to trick our systems. Continuing to find and fight them is essential to protecting people online and ensuring you get the very best from the open web.”