Google took down 1.7 billion ads that violated their policies in 2016. This is almost twice as many as the company did in 2015.
Last year, Google changed its policies in terms of how it tracks ads that are misleading or predatory. That’s included a policy introduced in July to ban payday loan ads, which led to five million ads being banned from its network.
In a blog post, Google gives specific examples of ads it took down in 2016:
Ads for illegal products
Some of the most common ads that violated Google’s policy are ads promoting illegal activities or products e.g pharmaceutical and gambling violations. Google states that their systems detected an increase online and it disabled more than 68 million bad ads for healthcare violations, up from 12.5 million in 2015. The company also took down more than 17 million bad ads for illegal gambling violations in 2016.
Google states that it took down nearly 80 million bad ads for deceiving, misleading and shocking users. The company states that it requires advertisers to provide upfront information for people to make informed decisions.
Some 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 pounds in three days without lifting a finger.
Bad ads on mobile
Google states that a few thousand ‘self-clicking ads’ were disabled by the company as they are ads that violated their policy.
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, we disabled only a few thousand of these bad ads, but in 2016, our systems detected and disabled more than 23,000 self-clicking ads on our platforms, a huge increase year over year.
Ads trying to game the system
Google states that approximately 7 million ads that violated their policy were taken down for intentionally attempting to trick their detection systems.
Bad actors know that ads for certain products—like weight-loss supplements or payday loans—aren’t allowed by Google’s policies, so they try to trick our systems into letting them through.
In 2016, we saw the rise of tabloid cloakers, a new type of scammer that tries to game our system by pretending to be news. Cloakers often take advantage of timely topics—a government election, a trending news story or a popular celebrity—and their ads can look like headlines on a news website. But when people click on that story about Ellen DeGeneres and aliens, they go to a site selling weight-loss products, not a news story.
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.