Google have just released their bad ads report and it shows how their new policies that they introduced last year are working. The new policies introduced govern the types of ads allowed on the Google Network and Google products and they are designed to protect their users from ads that are misleading, inappropriate, or harmful.
In 2016, Google took down 1.7 billion ads that violated their advertising policies and that’s more than double the number of bad ads that they took in 2015. Some of the ads that they took down included:
Ads for illegal products
Some of the most common bad ads that Google find online are ads promoting illegal activities or products, like illegal pharmaceuticals and gambling (in countries where it’s prohibited). They also disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015 and took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.
Some ads known as Clickbait ads try to drive clicks and views by intentionally misleading people with false information like asking, “Are you at risk for this rare, skin-eating disease?” or offering miracle cures like a pill that will help you lose 50 lbs in 3 days without lifting a finger. In 2016, Google took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users.
Bad ads on mobile
As mobile use, has grown so has advertising developed exclusively for mobile devices, especially bad ads. If you’ve ever been on your phone and suddenly, without warning, ended up in the app store downloading an app you’ve never heard of, a “self-clicking ad” could be to blame. In 2015, only a few thousand of these bad ads were disabled, but in 2016, Google’s systems detected and disabled over 23,000 self-clicking ads on their platforms.
Ads trying to game the system
As Google improve their systems to find bad ads, their scams get better or change. Bad actors know that ads for certain products — like weight-loss supplements or payday loans — are not allowed by Google’s policies, so they try to trick Google’s systems into letting them through. This can become a cat and mouse game and last year, almost 7 million bad ads were taken down for intentionally attempting to trick our detection systems.
In 2016, a new type of scammer became more popular, tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that pretends to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of current trends and hot topics: a government election, a trending news story or a well-known celebrity. Their ads can look like headlines for real articles on a news website, but when you click on the ads you get sent to a site selling weight loss products.
Google also updated their AdSense misrepresentative content policy last November and they have reviewed 550 sites suspected of misrepresenting content to users in ways that included impersonating news organizations. They have also acted against 340 for violations and banned nearly 200 publishers from the AdSense network.