The tech giant Google blocked and removed 2.7 billion bad ads more than 5,000 bad ads per minute and suspended nearly 1 million advertiser accounts for policy violations, the company announced on Thursday.
On the publisher side, Google terminated over 1.2 million accounts and removed ads from over 21 million web pages that are part of its publisher network for violating its policies. “Terminating accounts not just removing an individual ad or page is an especially effective enforcement tool that we use if advertisers or publishers engage in egregious policy violations or have a history of violating policy,” Scott Spencer, Vice President of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Safety, said in a statement.
Google said that it is now closely monitoring advertiser behaviour to protect users from ads looking to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis. “We have a dedicated COVID-19 task force that’s been working around the clock. They have built new detection technology and have also improved our existing enforcement systems to stop bad actors,” said Spencer.
“We’ve blocked and removed tens of millions of coronavirus-related ads over the past few months for policy violations including price-gouging, capitalizing on global medical supply shortages, making misleading claims about cures and promoting illegitimate unemployment benefits,” he added.
In 2019, Google assembled an internal team to track the patterns and signals of fraudulent advertisers into phishing and “trick-to-click”.
“As a result, we saw nearly a 50 per cent decrease of bad ads served in both categories from the previous year. In total, we blocked more than 35 million phishing ads and 19 million ‘trick-to-click’ ads in 2019,” informed Spencer.
For example, Google saw more bad actors targeting people seeking to renew their passport.
These ads mimicked real ads for renewal sites but their actual intent was to get users to provide sensitive information such as their social security or credit card number. As more consumers turn to online financial services over brick and mortar locations, Google identified an increase in personal loan ads with misleading information on lending terms.
To combat this, it broadened its policy to only allow loan-related ads to run if the advertiser clearly states all fees, risks and benefits on their website or app so that users can make informed decisions. “This updated policy enabled us to take down 9.6 million of these types of bad ads in 2019, doubling our number from 2018,” said Spencer.