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Google’s Filtering of ‘Bad Ads’

Google recently posted in their AdWords blog a summary of their efforts to stop ‘bad ads’ appearing on their network in 2016. These bad ads might be trying to promote illegal products or make unrealistic offers, or they can trick people into sharing personal information and infect devices with harmful software. Such actions can also reflect badly on Google’s platform, so they take steps to prevent these ads appearing whenever possible.

These ‘bad ads’ can be search or display ads, and Google does have strict policies about the type of ads allowed to run on their system. There are automated filters in place to trigger ad disapprovals, as well as a team of experts who will review ads and make a decision on their use. In total, 1.7 billion ads were identified in 2017 as ones that violated Google’s policies and were therefore blocked or removed. This was double the number from the year before.

In the past year Google extended their policies and removed ads that were misleading or making predatory offers, such as payday loans (over 5 million ads removed worldwide). They also enhanced their system to try to spot and remove contravening ads as quickly as possible, such as display or mobile ads that try to trick viewers to click on the ad due to a false warning message that may actually lead to the downloading of harmful software or malware (112 million ads in 2016 – 6 times more than in 2015).

The other types of ads that were widely blocked were ads for illegal products, such as pharmaceuticals (68 million ads) or unauthorised gambling products (17 million ads). Misleading ads, such as some weight loss products, were also removed (80 million).

Other types of blocked ads were ‘self clicking ads’ on mobiles that don’t appear to be ads, and also ones that try to get around Google’s system such as ‘tabloid cloakers’ which are banner ads that appear to look like headlines of a topical subject on a website, but actually link to a completely different website promoting products that Google would otherwise ban.

Google will ban the ads they find that contravene their system, as well as the advertiser depending on the threat or frequency of the bad ads. It is, however, a growing problem and one that Google is continuing to fight more effectively and quickly to maintain the trust of their advertising network, from both advertisers and viewers who may be adversely affected.

Hopefully you’ve not been affected by bad ads from either the advertiser or consumer angle, but if you would like more information about this, please contact us for details.