August 23, 2017

Over 1.7 Billion Bad Ads Taken Down by Google Last Year

Google more than doubled the amount of ads it took down in 2016 from its platform compared to 2015, removing over 1.7 billion “bad” ads. Why take down so many ads? “Ultimately, bad ads pose a threat to users, Google’s partners, and the sustainability of the open web itself,” said Scott Spencer, Google’s Director of Product Management for Sustainable Ads.

“We have a strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads,” noted Spencer. “And we have a team of engineers, policy experts, product managers and others who are waging a daily fight against bad actors. Over the years, this commitment has made the web a better place for you—and a worse place for those who seek to abuse advertising systems for their own gain.”

Google’s Strategy for Taking Down Bad Ads

In 2016 Google expanded their definition of what a bad ad is in order to remove any ad that is misleading or deemed to be predatory. In July, for instance, they started banning ads for payday loans, which are considered a bad deal for the end user who often are poor to begin with. Google said that in just 6 months since implementing the ban over 5 million payday loan ads were removed.

Google also improved their bad ad technology. “We beefed up our technology so we can spot and disable bad ads even faster,” said Spencer. “For example, “trick to click” ads often appear as system warnings to deceive users into clicking on them, not realizing they are often downloading harmful software or malware. In 2016, our systems detected and disabled a total of 112 million ads for “trick to click,” 6X more than in 2015.”

More Key Bad Ad Actions Announced by Google
  • Disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations.
  • Took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling.
  • Took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users.
  • Detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads.
  • Took down 7 million bad ads for attempting to trick our detection systems.
  • Suspended more than 1,300 accounts for tabloid cloaking, pretending to be news.
  • Took action on 47,000 sites for promoting content and products related to weight-loss scams.
  • Took action on more than 15,000 sites for unwanted software.
  • Disabled 900,000 ads for containing malware.
  • Suspended around 6,000 sites for attempting to advertise counterfeit goods.
  • Took action against 340 website owners impersonation news or other entities.

“While we took down more bad ads in 2016 than ever before, the battle doesn’t end here,” says Spencer. “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.”